Rosanna Deerchild presented two powerful pieces today on Facebook, reflecting on the fresh horror of mass graves at Kamloops Residential School. The first is a brief, real-life conversation; the second, a reflection on the first. Solomon Ratt has rendered both in Woodlands Cree (th-dialect) which is the language of Rosanna’s “Momsy” (Edna), and the language of Rosanna’s stolen birthright. Sol also provided audio. We are grateful for permission to share them here, and proud to help amplify Rosanna’s voice.
[Photo: Rosanna and Momsy speaking together at the Winnipeg launch of Rosanna’s Calling Down the Sky November 2017.]
me: mama, they found 215 children in a grave at a residential school.
momsy: i know.
me: did you see on TV?
momsy: mwhatz. I sawn it in real life.
me and my sister, we sawn them. in the furnace. three small skulls. they didn’t get buried.
nîtha: mâmâ, kî-miskawîwak 215 awâsisa thikwahaskânihk nîtî ayamihâwi-kiskinwahamâtowikamikohk.
nîtha: î-kî-wâpahtaman cî cikâstîpathihcikanisihk?
momsy: mwâc, nikî-pî-wâpâhtîn kâ-pî-pimâtisiyân.
nîtha ikwa nîtisân, nikî-wâpamânânak. kihci-kotawânâpiskohk. nisto miscikwânikanisa. môtha kî-ohci-nahinâwak.
I don’t want to hear your sorry’s
my tears drown out your thoughts
your prayers are not louder than my screams
my grief goes deeper
than your lies
that fill me with good intentions
and educating the indian
until we are nothing but a myth
john a macdonald drank away
with the buffalo
but here is the truth
in 215 children
môtha ninôhtî-pîhtîn kikitimâkîthihtamowin
nitohcikawâpoya ka-nistâpâwatam kimâmitonîthihtamowina
kitayamihâwiniwâwa môtha nawac kisîwîwa ithikohk nitîpwîwina
nipîkiskâtisiwin awasimî atâmihk ispathin
ithikohk wîtha kikithâskîwina
ikwa ta-kiskinwahamowat ithiniw
isko nîthanân î-kîthâskî-wâcimomikawiyâhk
john a macdonald kâ-kî-minihkwâtahk î-kî-kitâpathihtât
mâka ômîta tâpwîwin
ôta 215 awâsisak
The news of 215 unmarked graves around Kamloops Residential School is devastating. But Kamloops is only one school site. Across Canada, children were sent out to play on the unmarked graves of other children. The deaths were unrecorded. The families remained uninformed. This is the definition of “crime against humanity”:
Rosanna Deerchild writes “Canada must convene searches of all former residential school sites for more buried children.” And she points out via hashtag: #reconciliationisyourwork. So here I write as one of the “your.” How can we help make this happen?
Here’s a petition we can all sign, started by Crystal Fafard in Saskatoon:
#215children #bringthemhome #takethemhome
|kisêmanito, miyin: wanaskêwin
êkwa iyinîsiwin ta-nisitawinamân
|ᑭᓭᒪᓂᑐ, ᒥᔨᐣ: ᐘᓇᐢᑫᐏᐣ
ᑕ ᐸᑭᑌᔨᐦᑕᒫᐣ ᑮᒁᐩ
ᑳ ᐑ ᐘᓈᐦᐃᑯᔮᐣ
ᓲᐦᑭᑌᐦᐁᐏᐣ ᑕ ᑵᐢᑭᓇᒫᐣ
ᑮᒁᐩ ᑕᑮ ᑌᐯᔨᐦᑕᒫᐣ
ᐁᑿ ᐃᔨᓃᓯᐏᐣ ᑕ ᓂᓯᑕᐏᓇᒫᐣ
ᑖᓂᒣᐘᑯ ᑕ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᔮᐣ
|kisîmanito, mithin: wanaskîwin
ikwa ithinîsiwin ta-nisitawinamân
|ᑭᓰᒪᓂᑐ, ᒥᖨᐣ: ᐘᓇᐢᑮᐏᐣ
ᑕ ᐸᑭᑏᖨᐦᑕᒫᐣ ᑮᒁᐩ
ᑳ ᐑ ᐘᓈᐦᐃᑯᔮᐣ
ᓲᐦᑭᑌᐦᐁᐏᐣ ᑕ ᑹᐢᑭᓇᒫᐣ
ᑮᒁᐩ ᑕᑮ ᑎᐲᖨᐦᑕᒫᐣ
ᐃᑿ ᐃᖨᓃᓯᐏᐣ ᑕ ᓂᓯᑕᐏᓇᒫᐣ
ᑖᓂᒣ ᔭᑯ ᑕ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᔮᐣ
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Thanks for this, Sol. Much needed today, as every day.
The 22nd Annual CILLDI Language Revitalization Summer School is fully online for 2021.
The Summer School will run from July 5 to August 13.
Click here to learn more: https://sites.google.com/ualberta.ca/cilldi-summer-school-2021
“Tracker Tom” Charles leaves a lot of powerful memories, including these from Solomon Ratt, who had the honour more than once of being tracked. Sol writes:
I climbed my first mountain when I was sixteen. I had to scramble up Mount Sulphur because I had tried to take a short cut to the next switchback. I never found it. It was easier going up than going down so I scrambled up. I got to the top and saw Tom looking over the fence at the view point and when he saw me he hollered! “There you are! I was about to go looking for you.” He had taken the gondola up there and waited for me. R.I.P. my friend. Tom Charles, thanks for agreeing to go hitchhiking with me when we were teens so I could see the mountains.
I went hunting with him once and I wandered off while he was doing number 2. I got lost and he spent the rest of the day tracking me. He found me in the evening, sitting on a hill, watching beavers down by the water.
A more recent memory is captured in this 2018 photo, where Tom worked for three hours to free Sol’s car from lake road slush as they left the Winter Cree Storytelling Camp.
R.I.P. Tom, we had some good times!
[Photos: Solomon Ratt: A view from Mount Sulphur, 2019; Sol’s car stuck in slush, 2018]
Thanks to Destiny Thomas for sharing another original piece of creative writing (complete with audio and original illustration), prepared for Solomon Ratt’s Creative Writing course at FNUC this year.
kayās pēyak nāpēsis, “ostēsimāw” ē-kī-isiyihkāsot, kī-mamāhtāwi-miyikosiw. ēkwa kahkiyaw kīkway ē-kī-cīhkēyihtahk, kī-nihtā-mēskocipayit. pēyak-kīsikāk ē-kī-pēyako-mētawēt ēkwa ē-sikatēyihtahk. kī-nōhtē-wīci-mētawēmāt otōtēma māka pēyako-wīcāyāmēw okāwiya ēkwa ohtāwiya. kapē māna ē-kī-canawīyit ta-wīci-mētawēmikot.
ēkosi kī-papāmohtēw ēkwa ē-kī-pētawāt mahihkana ē-pimipahtāyit ēkwa ē-nāh-nawaswātitoyit.
itēw, “tānisi, ostēsimāw nitisiyihkāson. ka-kī-wīci-mētawēmitināwāw cī?”
ē-kī-pāhpihācik ēkwa itēwak, “māka nāpēsis piko kiya, kika-wīsakihitinān naskasīnānak ēkwa nīpitīnāna ohci.”
ostēsismāw kī-pīkwēyihtam māka itēw, “kīspin pakitinēyēko kita-ākwahamān kiskīsikiwāwa ēkwa ta-manisamān kēstakayiwāwa, nika-mahihkaniwin nīsta mīna.”
mahihkanak kī-nōhtē-wāpamēwak tānisi-isi awa nāpēsis kā-wī-āpacihtāt mēstakaya ēkwa ta-isi-mahihkaniwit. itēwak, “ahāw ostēsimāw, māka tēpiyahk ēkā ta-wīsakahoyāhk.”
ostēsimāw itēw, “koskowātapik!”
kī-māci-manisam ostakayiwāwa ēkwa ē-kī-wēwēkahpitahk wēstakahk ēkwa kī-kākīsimow. aspin ē-mahihkanipayit ēkwa kotakak mahihkana kī-yēyihēwak.
ostēsimāw kī-itēw, “kinanāskomitināwāw, osām ē-pakitiniyēk kita-āpacihtāyān kēstakayiwāwa, kimiyitināwāw otōtēmiwēwina.”
ē-kī-māmawi-mētawēcik tahto-askiy. mīna ē-kī-wīci-minahotocik ēkwa piyis osīmisa mahihkana ē-kī-wīcāyāmāt.
ᑲᔮᐢ ᐯᔭᐠ ᓈᐯᓯᐢ, “ᐅᐢᑌᓯᒫᐤ” ᐁ ᑮ ᐃᓯᔨᐦᑳᓱᐟ, ᑮ ᒪᒫᐦᑖᐏ ᒥᔨᑯᓯᐤ᙮ ᐁᑿ ᑲᐦᑭᔭᐤ ᑮᑿᐩ ᐁ ᑮ ᒌᐦᑫᔨᐦᑕᕽ, ᑮ ᓂᐦᑖ ᒣᐢᑯᒋᐸᔨᐟ᙮ ᐯᔭᐠ ᑮᓯᑳᐠ ᐁ ᑮ ᐯᔭᑯ ᒣᑕᐍᐟ ᐁᑿ ᐁ ᓯᑲᑌᔨᐦᑕᕽ᙮ ᑮ ᓅᐦᑌ ᐑᒋ ᒣᑕᐍᒫᐟ ᐅᑑᑌᒪ ᒫᑲ ᐯᔭᑯ ᐑᒑᔮᒣᐤ ᐅᑳᐏᔭ ᐁᑿ ᐅᐦᑖᐏᔭ᙮ ᑲᐯ ᒫᓇ ᐁ ᑮ ᒐᓇᐑᔨᐟ ᑕ ᐑᒋ ᒣᑕᐍᒥᑯᐟ᙮
ᐁᑯᓯ ᑮ-ᐸᐹᒧᐦᑌᐤ ᐁᑿ ᐁ ᑮ ᐯᑕᐚᐟ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇ ᐁ ᐱᒥᐸᐦᑖᔨᐟ ᐁᑿ ᐁ ᓈᐦ ᓇᐘᔃᑎᑐᔨᐟ᙮
ᐃᑌᐤ, “ᑖᓂᓯ, ᐅᐢᑌᓯᒫᐤ ᓂᑎᓯᔨᐦᑳᓱᐣ᙮ ᑲ ᑮ ᐑᒋ ᒣᑕᐍᒥᑎᓈᐚᐤ ᒌ?”
ᐁ ᑮ ᐹᐦᐱᐦᐋᒋᐠ ᐁᑿ ᐃᑌᐘᐠ, “ᒫᑲ ᓈᐯᓯᐢ ᐱᑯ ᑭᔭ, ᑭᑲ ᐑᓴᑭᐦᐃᑎᓈᐣ ᓇᐢᑲᓰᓈᓇᐠ ᐁᑿ ᓃᐱᑏᓈᓇ ᐅᐦᒋ᙮”
ᐅᐢᑌᓯᐢᒫᐤ ᑮ ᐲᑵᔨᐦᑕᒼ ᒫᑲ ᐃᑌᐤ, “ᑮᐢᐱᐣ ᐸᑭᑎᓀᔦᑯ ᑭᑕ ᐋᑿᐦᐊᒫᐣ ᑭᐢᑮᓯᑭᐚᐘ ᐁᑿ ᑕ ᒪᓂᓴᒫᐣ ᑫᐢᑕᑲᔨᐚᐘ, ᓂᑲ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓂᐏᐣ ᓃᐢᑕ ᒦᓇ᙮”
ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇᐠ ᑮ ᓅᐦᑌ ᐚᐸᒣᐘᐠ ᑖᓂᓯ ᐃᓯ ᐊᐘ ᓈᐯᓯᐢ ᑳ ᐑ ᐋᐸᒋᐦᑖᐟ ᒣᐢᑕᑲᔭ ᐁᑿ ᑕ ᐃᓯ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓂᐏᐟ᙮ ᐃᑌᐘᐠ, “ᐊᐦᐋᐤ ᐅᐢᑌᓯᒫᐤ, ᒫᑲ ᑌᐱᔭᕽ ᐁᑳ ᑕ ᐑᓴᑲᐦᐅᔮᕽ᙮”
ᐅᐢᑌᓯᒫᐤ ᐃᑌᐤ, “ᑯᐢᑯᐚᑕᐱᐠ!”
ᑮ ᒫᒋ ᒪᓂᓴᒼ ᐅᐢᑕᑲᔨᐚᐘ ᐁᑿ ᐁ ᑮ ᐍᐍᑲᐦᐱᑕᕽ ᐍᐢᑕᑲᕽ ᐁᑿ ᑮ ᑳᑮᓯᒧᐤ᙮ ᐊᐢᐱᐣ ᐁ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓂᐸᔨᐟ ᐁᑿ ᑯᑕᑲᐠ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇ ᑮ ᔦᔨᐦᐁᐘᐠ᙮
ᐅᐢᑌᓯᒫᐤ ᑮ ᐃᑌᐤ, “ᑭᓇᓈᐢᑯᒥᑎᓈᐚᐤ, ᐅᓵᒼ ᐁ ᐸᑭᑎᓂᔦᐠ ᑭᑕ ᐋᐸᒋᐦᑖᔮᐣ ᑫᐢᑕᑲᔨᐚᐘ, ᑭᒥᔨᑎᓈᐚᐤ ᐅᑑᑌᒥᐍᐏᓇ᙮”
ᐁ ᑮ ᒫᒪᐏ ᒣᑕᐍᒋᐠ ᑕᐦᑐ ᐊᐢᑭᐩ᙮ ᒦᓇ ᐁ ᑮ ᐑᒋ ᒥᓇᐦᐅᑐᒋᐠ ᐁᑿ ᐱᔨᐢ ᐅᓰᒥᓴ ᒪᐦᐃᐦᑲᓇ ᐁ ᑮ ᐑᒑᔮᒫᐟ᙮
Long ago there was a boy named “older brother”, he was a spiritually powerful boy. He could change himself into anything he likes. One day he was playing by himself and was getting bored. He wanted friends to play with but he lived alone with his mom and dad. They were too busy to play with him.
So, he went for a walk and heard some wolves running and chasing each other.
He said, “hello, my name is older brother, can I play with you?”
They laughed at him and said, “you are just a little boy, we will hurt you with our claws and teeth”
Older brother was sad but he said, “if you let me cover your eyes and cut some of your hair, I can be a wolf too”
The wolves wanted to see how this young boy was going to use their hair and become one. They said, “okay older brother, but as long as we don’t get hurt”
Older brother said, “sit still!”
He began cutting a piece of their hair and he tied it into his hair and began praying. He turned into a wolf and the other wolves were excited for him.
Older brother said, “thank you, because you let me use your hair, I will gift you with friendship.”
They played together for years. They hunted together and his younger brother ended up living with them.
A big thank you to Jesse Archibald-Barber of First Nations University for composing a review of this beautiful new book that is kwayask, “just right.” We are honoured to publish Jesse’s first Cree-language review, and delighted that he took time to record his reading of it for us to share as well.
[Scroll past the review to find ordering details: you’re going to want a copy of your own!]
Eleanor Brass omasinahikan tâpiskôc mêkiwin acâhkosihk ohci, kâ-kiskisohikoyahk pêci-nâway ispîhk pawâtamowina êkwa âtayôhkêwina kâ-kî-wîcihikoyahkok ta-kiskinohtahikoyahkok kipimâcihowininawa.
oski-nêhiyawascikêwin Brass otâcimowina êkwa miyo-masinipêhikêwina kipimâcihikonawak kitâniskômohcikaninawa askiy isi, tâpiskôc wâpakwanîwina nihtâwikihcikanihk kimâmitonêyihcikaninâhk.
êkosi ohci ôma miyo-masinahikan, kikiskisinânaw askiya kisiskâciwanihk ôma tâpwê iyiniw-askiy!
kinanâskomitinawâw Eleanor Brass kâ-kî-itiht, onêhiyawascikêwak, êkwa omasinipêhikêw. hay-hay!
Eleanor Brass ᐅᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᐣ ᑖᐱᐢᑰᐨ ᒣᑭᐏᐣ ᐊᒑᐦᑯᓯᕽ ᐅᐦᒋ, ᑳ ᑭᐢᑭᓱᐦᐃᑯᔭᕽ ᐯᒋ ᓈᐘᐩ ᐃᐢᐲᕽ ᐸᐚᑕᒧᐏᓇ ᐁᑿ ᐋᑕᔫᐦᑫᐏᓇ ᑳ ᑮ ᐑᒋᐦᐃᑯᔭᐦᑯᐠ ᑕ ᑭᐢᑭᓄᐦᑕᐦᐃᑯᔭᐦᑯᐠ ᑭᐱᒫᒋᐦᐅᐏᓂᓇᐘ᙮
ᐅᐢᑭ ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐘᐢᒋᑫᐏᐣ Brass ᐅᑖᒋᒧᐏᓇ ᐁᑿ ᒥᔪ ᒪᓯᓂᐯᐦᐃᑫᐏᓇ ᑭᐱᒫᒋᐦᐃᑯᓇᐘᐠ ᑭᑖᓂᐢᑰᒧᐦᒋᑲᓂᓇᐘ ᐊᐢᑭᐩ ᐃᓯ, ᑖᐱᐢᑰᐨ ᐚᐸᑿᓃᐏᓇ ᓂᐦᑖᐏᑭᐦᒋᑲᓂᕽ ᑭᒫᒥᑐᓀᔨᐦᒋᑲᓂᓈᕽ᙮
ᐁᑯᓯ ᐅᐦᒋ ᐆᒪ ᒥᔪ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᐣ, ᑭᑭᐢᑭᓯᓈᓇᐤ ᐊᐢᑭᔭ ᑭᓯᐢᑳᒋᐘᓂᕽ ᐆᒪ ᑖᐻ ᐃᔨᓂᐘᐢᑭᐩ!
ᑭᓇᓈᐢᑯᒥᑎᓇᐚᐤ Eleanor Brass ᑳ ᑮ ᐃᑎᐦᐟ, ᐅᓀᐦᐃᔭᐘᐢᒋᑫᐘᐠ, ᐁᑿ ᐅᒪᓯᓂᐯᐦᐃᑫᐤ᙮ ᐦᐊᐩ ᐦᐊᐩ!
Eleanor Brass’s book is like a gift from the stars, reminding us of a time when dreams and sacred stories helped guide our lives.
The new Cree translation of Brass’s stories and the beautiful illustrations revitalize our connection to the land, like flowers blooming in the fields of our imaginations.
With this wonderful book, we remember that the lands of Saskatchewan are truly Indigenous!
Thank you to Eleanor Brass, the Cree translators, and the illustrator. hay-hay!
You can also download this PDF brochure with full ordering details, ideal for passing on to libraries, schools or other corporate purchasers (to give them a helpful nudge). Bulk or educational purchasers should email the publisher directly: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
tahto-kîsikâw kakwî-miska piyak kîkway î-mithwâsik.
ᑕᐦᑐ ᑮᓯᑳᐤ ᑲᑹ ᒥᐢᑲ ᐱᔭᐠ ᑮᑿᐩ ᐄ ᒥᖬᓯᐠ᙮
Each day, try to find something good.
Thanks to Destiny Thomas for sharing this poem she wrote in her FNUC advanced Cree Creative Writing class, along with her own audio and family portrait. It is really a joy to see people claiming their birthright by learning to read and write and express themselves in Cree. It’s even sweeter to see, through this poem dedicated literally to Destiny’s children, the commitment to share that right with the next generation.
|nitasocikān nitawāsimisak||I Promise to my Children|
|kīspin pahkisiniyani,||If you fall,|
|kika-naskwēnitin.||I will pick you up.|
|kīspin mātoyani,||If you cry,|
|nika-kāsīhēn kiskīsikwa.||I will wipe your eyes.|
|kīspin mēcimosiniyani,||If you’re stuck,|
|kika-wīcihitin.||I will help.|
|kīspin pīkiskātisiyani,||If you’re sad,|
|kika-atamihitin.||I will make you smile.|
|kīspin āhkosiyani,||If you’re sick,|
|kika-pamihitin.||I will help you feel better.|
|kīspin kisiwāsiyani,||If you’re angry,|
|nika-naskwān.||I will fight.|
|kīspin wanisiniyani,||If you’re lost,|
|nika-miskwēyihcikān.||I will help find a way.|
|piko iyikohk kīkway kā-wanitōtākoyan,||No matter what you find wrong,|
|ēkota nika-ispahtān.||I will be there quickly.|
|kika-nākatohkātin āhci piko ispī ayāyāni kisē-manitonāhk.||I will be there for you even when I’m in the spirit world.|