To All the Residential School Survivors, Dedicated to Mechelle Pierre, by Wanda John-Kehewin

To all the children of residential schools…

I hope your life is filled with love
from here on earth and from above.
I hope you can overcome your fears
through family, friends and many healing tears.
I hope you can find your way back home
where you feel most safe, anywhere you choose
just as long as you can be yourself
to laugh without shame and let go of pain.
I hope you can see the Creator’s plan for you
because you’re still here and learning to love
and sharing your knowledge can bring about change
and a chance to set things right in your heart.
I hope you smile at the little things and pause
and reflect on how much time was needed to bring it forth
because even a flower had to be planted in manure
to blossom into a resilient flower who one day will dissolve back
into the earth but until then, share the beauty and wealth of healing
which is a continuous cycle just like the earth and all her creatures.
Bring forth new smiles, new loves and new lives and reinvent old ways
to give a child the will and strength to push forth into new territory
where it doesn’t hurt to be a child and it doesn’t hurt to laugh
and there’s no shame in being happy and there’s no way to break their hearts,
And it’s ok to be proud because you have taught them how special they
Are to you and to the Creator…*

I hope you know just how strong you are,
Just how resilient,
Just how beautiful,
Just how knowledgeable,
Just how amazing you are to pull forth
your wings to fly again,
to see beauty in the ugliness
because without the pain of yesterday,
You wouldn’t be who you are today…
A teacher, a survivor, a lover of life,
And the keeper of stories of awful days
Gone by…

QUOTES OF NOTE

“Her work is brave, brilliant, and relentless. Her voice deserves to be heard.”
– Garry Gottfriedson

 

“Playful, painful, indignant, compassionate, a new voice emerges into the realms of Canadian poetry. Wanda John-Kehewin is a smart, sharp observer and an articulate craftswoman. Her poetry shines.”
– Joanne Arnott

"Seven Sacred Truths by Wanda John-Kehewin, Talonbooks, 2019

This second collection from Vancouver-based Cree poet Wanda John-Kehewin returns to a place of witness that psychologically complements her debut, In the Dog House (Talonbooks, 2013). That collection featured discrete poems, while this one laces prose, experimental poetry, testimony, acrostic, prayer, poems of witness, essay, memoir, and recollection. 

 

Seven Sacred Truths is a prayer, literally. It opens with prose poem prayers to the Creator, the Universe and Ancestors. These meditations are method for surviving and moving onwards to repair epigenetic ruptures with the next generation. This type of healing is never complete, she warns, but it can become a way of life. Seven Sacred Truths uses poetry as just one of its vehicles for moving forward. John-Kehewin offers her own experience as another, reminding the reader that each person has their own truth to reconcile."     Elee Kralji-Gardiner, Prism Magazine



 

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