Education of Forgetting: Billy Joe Laboucan

It’s always an honour to share the writing of our old friend and fellow language warrior, Billy Joe Laboucan. His profound commitment to real world community issues doesn’t leave him much time to spare, yet he never forgets the importance of language and culture. This poem, he dedicates “to all Indigenous language warriors, you know who you are … and to all ones who are now gone from this physical earth; and, to all the future fluent speakers who will rescue and assume leadership.”
ta-isi-wanikiskisihk kiskinwahamâkêwinᑕ ᐃᓯ ᐘᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᕽ ᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑫᐏᐣEducation of forgetting;
êwako ôhi otôtamowiniwâw; mȃcika…ᐁᐘᑯ ᐆᐦᐃ ᐅᑑᑕᒧᐏᓂᐚᐤ; ᒫᒋᑲ...That is their mission; so …
nikî-wanikiskisitotâson;ᓂᑮ ᐘᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᑐᑖᓱᐣ;I forgot me;
nikî-wanikiskisin nipîkiskwêwin…ᓂᑮ ᐘᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᐣ ᓂᐲᑭᐢᑵᐏᐣ…I forgot my language…
âtayôhkêwin êkwa kiskisowinᐋᑕᔫᐦᑫᐏᐣ ᐁᑿ ᑭᐢᑭᓱᐏᐣMythology; and remembrance
ê-oskisîhtâhk itwêwêstamâkêwin, êkota…ᐁ ᐅᐢᑭᓰᐦᑖᕽ ᐃᑘᐍᐢᑕᒫᑫᐏᐣ, ᐁᑯᑕ…Recreating interpretation; then …
nikiskisitotâson;ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᑐᑖᓱᐣ;I remember me;
nikiskisin nipîkiskwêwin…ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᐣ ᓂᐲᑭᐢᑵᐏᐣ…I remember my language …
Original artwork thanks to Solomon Ratt, who also provided audio.

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