Rita Joe’s “I Lost My Talk” translated by Wayne Jackson

Thanks to Wayne Jackson for more individual acts of language reclamation than we can count. This one is translation into Cree of Rita Joe’s powerful poem in which she aspires to reclamation for herself. For Cree residential school survivors, Wayne suggests replacing the name Shubenacadie with that of the school they attended. For the audio recording, our thanks goes to Darian Âcikahtê of First Nations University.

niwanihtân nipîkiskwêwin

Rita Joe wiya omasinahikêwinis

niwanihtân nipîkiskwêwin.
kiya kâ-kî-maskamêman
ê-mêkwâ-awâsisêwiyân ita
kâ-kî-kiskinohamâkosiyân Shubenacadie.

ê-kî-otihtinaman,
pêyakwan kiya ê-isi-pîkiskwêyân, ê-isi-mâmitonêyihtamân.
kîkwêy kâ-osihcikêyân mwêhci kiya ê-isinâkwahk.
kiwawânêyihtami-nikamon nipimâcihowin ohci.

nîso nit-isi-pîkiskwân
nânapohk nititwân,
nawac kiya sohkan kipîkiskwêwin.

mâcika, kitisanamâtin nicihciy ta-kwêcimitân
ta-kakwê-miskamân nipîkiskwêwin
êkota ohci ka-kiskinohamâtin tânisi ê-kî-isi-pimâcihoyân.

ᓂᐘᓂᐦᑖᐣ ᓂᐲᑭᐢᑵᐏᐣ

Rita Joe ᐏᔭ ᐅᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑫᐏᓂᐢ

ᓂᐘᓂᐦᑖᐣ ᓂᐲᑭᐢᑵᐏᐣ᙮
ᑭᔭ ᑳ ᑮ ᒪᐢᑲᒣᒪᐣ
ᐁ ᒣᒁ ᐊᐚᓯᓭᐏᔮᐣ ᐃᑕ
ᑳ ᑮ ᑭᐢᑭᓄᐦᐊᒫᑯᓯᔮᐣ Shubenacadie.

ᐁ ᑮ ᐅᑎᐦᑎᓇᒪᐣ,
ᐯᔭᑿᐣ ᑭᔭ ᐁ ᐃᓯ ᐲᑭᐢᑵᔮᐣ, ᐁ ᐃᓯ ᒫᒥᑐᓀᔨᐦᑕᒫᐣ᙮
ᑮᑵᐩ ᑳ ᐅᓯᐦᒋᑫᔮᐣ ᒭᐦᒋ ᑭᔭ ᐁ ᐃᓯᓈᑿᕽ᙮
ᑭᐘᐚᓀᔨᐦᑕᒥ ᓂᑲᒧᐣ ᓂᐱᒫᒋᐦᐅᐏᐣ ᐅᐦᒋ᙮

ᓃᓱ ᓂᑎᓯ ᐲᑭᐢᒁᐣ
ᓈᓇᐳᕽ ᓂᑎᑤᐣ,
ᓇᐘᐨ ᑭᔭ ᓱᐦᑲᐣ ᑭᐲᑭᐢᑵᐏᐣ᙮

ᒫᒋᑲ, ᑭᑎᓴᓇᒫᑎᐣ ᓂᒋᐦᒋᐩ ᑕ ᑵᒋᒥᑖᐣ
ᑕ ᑲᑵ ᒥᐢᑲᒫᐣ ᓂᐲᑭᐢᑵᐏᐣ
ᐁᑯᑕ ᐅᐦᒋ ᑲ ᑭᐢᑭᓄᐦᐊᒫᑎᐣ ᑖᓂᓯ ᐁ ᑮ ᐃᓯ ᐱᒫᒋᐦᐅᔮᐣ᙮

I lost my talk

by Rita Joe.

I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubenacadie school.

You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my word.

Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.

So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk
So I can teach you about me.

Rita Joe, “I Lost My Talk,” from Song of Eskasoni. Copyright © 2007 by the Estate of Rita Joe. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Rita Joe.

Learn more about Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe and this poem at https://poetryinvoice.ca/read/poems/i-lost-my-talk – which is also the source of the featured photo, above.

4 Responses

  1. thank you for all that you do – the site is beautiful and although I am not Indigenous, I wholeheartedly appreciate this reawakening.

    Greetings from Waterville Valley, NH.

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