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nickitalongman

#MMIW

The night before the first phase of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, I felt a lot of anxiety. As a result, I wrote this:

 

My sisters II

My heart laid quiet, untouched
And unturned in a street side gutter on stolen land and soiled
for 1181 days or more.
I lazed through days with my emptied-out chest as

My red dress hung limp on my tired bones
for years as if it were forgotten
on the rack of a second-hand store
in an emptied-out settlers’ town no one ever

Inquired about. It was later found on a dark Tuesday morning,
misshapen and murmuring- lit by moon-
by a lady who had never lost her heart before.
Plopped into my open hand, I took it home,

Washed it, waited, warmed it and waited some more.
Now it beats quietly beside my bed
and if I listen long and still,
I can hear it whispering its rhythms of returning home.

 

 

 

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For Colten

Thank you to Red Rising Magazine for this publication in Issue 6: Revolt. This poem is a reflection on the shooting of Colten Boushie and is dedicated to his life.

Colten Boushie

You know it’s bad when the Aunties are mad

The conversation exploring Cultural Appropriation has been a hard one to miss these past few weeks. As someone who works tirelessly in the Indigenous Writing community, I couldn’t sit this round out of the discussion.

I was grateful to add the voices of Tracey Lindberg (@TraceyLindberg), Katherena Vermette (@katherenav), Janet Rogers (@2romediainc) and Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (@KateriAkiwenzie) to help fulfill why this conversation is equal parts necessary as it is frustrating.

“Unfortunately, cultural appropriation in the Canadian literary community is an all-consuming fire that has yet to be put out. With the debate over Joseph Boyden’s identity a few short months ago, the piece from Niedzviecki seems to be an act of solidarity with his fellow non-Indigenous writer.

These actions, like any inappropriate behaviours, did not go unnoticed by some of the strongest Indigenous women authors and aunties who have fearlessly put their work out into the mainstream.”

Read more.

Boyden’s Identity: Who steers this discourse?

I wrote a piece on the conversation that circulated like wildfire around the claims to Joseph Boyden’s identity. What bothered me most about the discussions around identity and community and accountability, was that it was largely men that filled up the airwaves and op-ed spaces to steer the conversation.

You simply cannot talk about Indigenous nationhood and community if you are excluding the voices of women and two-spirited folks. 

https://ricochetmedia.ca/en/1625/why-are-male-voices-dominating-the-boyden-discussion

Walking with Sylvia

Beyond the fireworks, park gatherings and the long weekend, Canada Day is a stark reminder of our country’s colonial history. It reminds us of the way the land was taken from Indigenous people, and personally, that’s not a reason to celebrate.

Instead, I spent my time with #IdleNoMore founder, Sylvia McAdam Saysewahum on her family’s traditional hunting territory. On a very contrasting 10+ km walk on a hot day, Sylvia showed us both the beauty of the natural land, as well as the ugliness that comes with clear cutting in Treaty 6 territory. I wrote about it here:

http://www.prairiedogmag.com/2016-07-07/walking-with-sylvia/13575898_10157107745490274_2016318565387072463_o

Photo courtesy of Andrew Loewen

National Aboriginal Day: Know your History

There’s so much to celebrate, year-round, on the resiliency of Indigenous people across Turtle Island. But if we’re going to dedicate a National Day to acknowledge the First Peoples, we need to understand present-day struggles that are rooted within a very colonial past. Here’s my piece on National Aboriginal Day that was published in Prairie Dog Magazine:
http://www.prairiedogmag.com/2016-06-09/not-completely-happy/13390970_10154945365725752_1801267388_n

To My Monster on a Sunday

My monster wears each wiry hair
jutting out from every face angle
aligning his crooked teeth.
Smiles when he’s angry,
frowns only when he’s pleased.

His rhetoric heart rips in rhythms,
ramming in a speed only he controls.

When he’s blind drunk,
he defends other monsters, ghouls, serpents-
claims he’s seen the live they’ve lived.
Growls and gruffs in only a language monsters know
and no one questions him in his grump.

You see, my monster was made in a lab:
1/2 handful of heart,
two grab fulls of grumpy,
12 pinches pissy.

He touches me soft only on
every third Sunday of every month.

Now and again, his scientist goes off the clock
and I make him laugh.
And I mean really laugh.

Yellow sparks dart out between his monster teeth,
foam flees from his fingertips.

When my monster’s mouth is wide open,
I can see his rotted heart
ricocheting between his rusted ribcage.

I don’t dare to stare,
so instead, I keep him laughing
until steam hisses and pops
out of his ears and nose-
until we’re both weak.

Shortly after my monster falls down beside me,
sleepy and sweaty, and I watch his wire
lashes jerk and he’s the nicest he’s ever been to me.

My monster hogs the bed.
Doesn’t notice the curled-up me,
and rams and rocks for 6 hours or less.

He cracks open his eyelids
like crunching glass and I’m sure
I’m the only thing he sees-
but that’ll pass

Because Monster Duty calls
and I’m left like fallen leaves.
I wait patiently until the next time
his knees fall down in laughter
like old, dried trees,
next to me
on the next third Sunday of every month.

The neglected North: making sense of the La Loche shootings

During my time as a Programmer for the Sask Writers’ Guild, I had attempted to create a creative writing workshop for northern, Indigenous youth.

I struggled to make contact with support systems and community organizations that would help me launch the program, and unfortunately, it didn’t come to life.

I spent more time researching the community to better understand their living conditions, and wanted to share that to a larger audience. Here’s the piece I wrote for Ricochet after the shootings took place in January 2016:
https://ricochet.media/en/891/the-neglected-north-making-sense-of-the-la-loche-shootings

Colonialism No More: Regina’s Solidarity Camp

After the northern community of Attawapiskat, ON declared a state of emergency due to a high rate of suicide attempts, solidarity camps popped up across Turtle Island. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend some time with the camp, and eventually sat down with a few of the organizers for an interview on their one month anniversary for Briarpatch magazine. The interview can be read here:
https://briarpatchmagazine.com/blog/view/interview-with-colonialism-no-more-regina-solidarity-camp

For a backgrounder on the camp, Eagle Feather news published more:
http://www.eaglefeathernews.com/news/index.php?detail=2107

You can follow the group on Facebook here:
https://www.facebook.com/Colonialism-No-More-Solidarity-Camp-Regina-990237494365414/?fref=ts

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