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Indigenous Arts & Stories - Untitled Collection

Untitled Collection

2011 - Writing Winner

Yet another day of hearing what I cannot hear no more Heard your Indian joke and laughter of hate Apologizing after the fact is still much too late

Read Stephanie Ritch's Untitled Collection

Stephanie Ritch

Thunder Bay, ON
Long Lake #58
Age 26

Author's Statement

Boozhoo! My name is Stephanie Ritch and I am 26 years old but have been told I’m wise beyond my years, something of which I admire much about myself. I am currently pregnant with my second baby and my due date is May 27th. I currently have a toddler named Sage Catherine who provides much joy and hope for me and my partner. I’m a Metis Ojibwa from the loon clan, my First Nation is Long Lake #58, and I grew up in Nakina and my current home of Thunder Bay, Ontario. I recently graduated from Lakehead University in May 2010 with an Honors Bachelor of Social Work (HBSW) degree. I am the part-time Student Counsellor and Student Liaison for the Native Nurses Entry Program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I am also currently studying Holistic Nutrition part-time through the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
Through my poetry you will gain some insights on a mixed bag of awful social injustices like racism, prejudice, discrimination, family and systemic violence, power and control, colonization and assimilation; all of which, myself and other Aboriginal and Métis people have strongly experienced today as well as in the past while living right here in Canada. Many of my most powerful negative experiences have had to do with the racism I endured growing up because I am Métis and half Ojibwa. The multitude of social injustices I have chosen to write poetry about have all strongly affected my life in many negative ways. My poetry offers much insight into the negative consequences and painful emotions caused by these social injustices of today. As a result of these negative experiences, I have also had to do much healing and some of my poetry is also about my own personal journey towards achieving personal health and healing. Miigwetch!

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Untitled Collection

Your Joke Hurt Me
Bodies lie within this earth
Spirits fly above the turf
Buried in unmarked graves
Once free now modern slaves
1492 may be in the past but
The consequences are vast
Felt the hate towards me
It has come in many forms
I don’t believe its fate
Racism is a social norm
Say they don’t play a part
While my heart breaks apart
‘Cause I hear them choke
From laughing so hard
After hearing an Indian joke

Canada
Divided and torn
Colonized at the core
Hearts go unhealed
Pain stays deep inside
Unchanged with time
Wrongfully forgotten
Put beyond the mind
Privileges growing
But only for the few
Not the proud and true

Pain Creating Power
Anishnabwe women
Largely ignored
Jailed and deplored
Pain is very deep
From generations before
Systematically colonized
In many abusive forms
Métis women
Struggling in between
Two cultures divided
Trying to make sense
Of being two sided
Rejected by her people
Home is feeble
Anishnabwe woman
Wisely balancing life
Living without strife
Helping out the youths
Carrying seven truths
Bravely sharing love
Indicative of above
Métis woman
Divinely created
Truly appreciated
Honestly humble
Rises after a tumble
Loving of diversity
Attending university

Beautiful Diversity
White girl said she’s prettier
Says my skin is too brown
Seems as if she’d say anything
Just to see me feeling down
Smiles when she sees me frown
Isn’t a fan of my my natural tan
She’s lucky my respect for all
Refuses to create a sprawl
Sage please keep me positive
Let me learn from this rage
May I judge not the same
My self esteem is not for claim
Fear has no power here
I love beautiful diversity

Truth Cannot Be Hidden
What are you?
What are you asking me?
I don’t get what she means
What do you mean?
She saw in my eyes
The cluelessness shined
That wise teacher of mine
What kind of Indian are you?
An Indian?
What do you mean?
Ask your parents
The school bell rang
It was time to ask
Who am I?
Took a couple minutes
Down the dirt road
Public housing
Home sweet home
What kind of Indian am I?
What do you mean?
Parents looked nervous
Should they spills the beans
And open the door
Or hide the Indian inside?
Forever thankful
They took a risk
Didn’t hide who I was
Even though I could sense
Pain so tense
Experiences of racism
Stories of pain
Hopeful legends
Healing journeys
Hunting stories
All for my inquiring mind
Your an Ojibwa Indian
Mrs. Moose!
Standing tall I said out loud
I’m an Ojibwa Indian!
Well you should be proud!

Highest In The World
Most don’t understand
Aboriginal living
House with no water
Coldness creeping in
Overcrowded no doubt
No nutritious food
Children go without
Milk priced higher
Than a can of pop
Mama eats pills
Daddy drinks beer
My sister died
It was a suicide
Traditional lands
In the wrong hands
Exploited by the rich
Almighty dollar
Supports white collar
Powerful people
Overall powerless
Systemic process
To colonize me
Back against a tree
Contemplating life
What could be?
Can’t get past
What’s done to me
Can’t take it anymore
Pop mamas pills
One final high
Before goodbye
Next thing I see
Myself flying
Over the casket
Got the whole
Family crying

Home Water Birth
On one November day
It was very cold outside
And nothing could hide
The sensational sound
That labor was bound
Remember tradition
When babies were born
With mom and dad at home
And woman at your side
A family near by
Welcoming community
Waiting to help you thrive
Safely you arrived
With the sun rise
Mama is wise
A home birth baby
Born in the water
Veins of our earth
As sacred as sage
Forgotten labor pain
Felt connected and
Protected by my people
After all that fear
From those who forget
Anishnabwe births
Asleep in her Tikanagun
Baby Sage is adored
Mama happily soared
Rest my feet and greet
My sweet Métis girl

Creation of a Métis Family
A granddaughters mystery
Of her great great grandfather
Finally revealed in history
Young William Sinclair Ritch
Born in 1852 in Scotland
Became a Scottish deck hand
For the Hudson’s Bay Company
He sailed on the Lady Head
While working for the fur trade
Leaving the Orkney Islands
Scotland far behind
Traveling to the high-lands
New World at his hands
Vast uncolonized frontier land
As he traveled across the ocean
I wonder if he had any notion
To foresee his future destiny
Soon he would be dad to many
In the new land of the loon
No idea what exactly would be
But open to future possibilities
Met a Cree from Fort Albany
A beauty named Sophia Wynn
Soon they had a Métis family
Now creators of new ethnicity
Forever thankful for my roots
Knowing my families story
Provides a proud sense of glory

Family Goes Without
Wood stove warms the house
Just a couple times a day
It’s hard to remain upbeat
When you can’t afford
To turn up the heat
Because there is no jobs
Conservative mobs
Employment level is down
Treated like a clown
Can’t get wood from trees
Says the powers that be
Policies meant to protect
But only legally neglect

Racism Hurts All
Saw a spray painting which stood apart
Wasn’t like any graffiti art on a boxcart
I know a persons heart is cold
As they write kill Indians in bold
The cops didn’t bother to hide it
The main road right beside it
Even though it said kill Indians
And broke many hearts inside
My family choose to stand tall
Made it our mission to hide it
With the words racism hurts all
My message for young and old
Don’t forget the traditional roots
If you don’t know the old ways
That’s ok because it was taken away
By hateful acts of today
Culture and knowledge lost
Old wisdom and traditions tossed
Ignorant and racists won’t admit
Many will omit from their mind
The violence inflicted on our kind
Say were doing it to ourselves
Put our problems on their shelves
Until the people turn it around
No one will gain from any hate
Living among a colonized state
What happens today wasn’t long ago
Time to reclaim a traditional loving way
Rise against the negative Thunder Bay

Need Leaders We Can Trust
High ranked leaders of ours
Behind their blank stare
Strongly swear they care
About the original people
While praying at the steeple
Truth remains hidden
Youth down ridden
Addiction now epidemic
Failed system very strong
Opinion over logic bound
Isn’t all that hard to see
It’s as obvious as can be
The systematic colonizing
Of the once born free

No, the ’60s Scoop Is Not Hippy Icecream.
There are those who stand up
Those who fight for freedom
But their kind is a rarity
A long and terrible shadow
Wisdom is able to see
Can’t speak nookmis language
Parents never taught me Ojibway
‘Cause of the racism they endured
Grew up with no ceremonies
Dogma and suffering of today
Scared to speak to each other
No one can heal when left behind
Parts of history deleted
But you can’t hide the truth
From an open heart and mind
Revealing stories of our people
Colonization and slow genocide
Experiences of residential schools
60′s scoop and that’s not icecream
Missing, murdered, suicidal youth
Take a look at Canada’s past
Darn to learn from the miscast
See the ignorance and hate
Life’s not great for anyone
While misguided and divided

More Painful Days Than Happy Days
Yet another day of hearing what I cannot hear no more
Heard your Indian joke and laughter of hate
Apologizing after the fact is still much too late
Yet another day of seeing what I cannot see at no more
A child was drugged and her naked body left to die
Another high off hairspray covers the pain inside
Yet another day of feeling like I cannot breath no more
A factories pollution is killing my traditional land
Slow genocidal death created by the rich mans hand
Yet another day of fearing what I cannot fear no more
Scared of those who have prejudged me before
Bleeding from the violence painfully endured

I Feel Like An Alien
My sadness very real
Longing to heal
Screaming to let go
Self esteem below
Always feeling low
A reoccurring theme
Makes me want to scream
Running in my head
Cunning and brain dead
Not many understand
How the colour of my skin
Can cause me not to fit in
I’m only slightly tanned
Not quite as dark as dad
Mom is a pretty pale face
Yet some people act
Like were an alien race
Why can’t people
Live with equality
Instead they’d rather
Gather in the town
Make us feel far down
Aren’t I a person too?
Pinch my knee to see
Pain shooting deep
Tears appear to weep
I am a human too
Just not in their skew

Man Made Corner
Explore the frontier, such a grand northern brand
Experience young poor between the old pine trees
Having to survive in this harsh colonized land
Where corporatism is chosen over humanity
And soil is depleted and water makes us sick
Walk in my reserve or take a drive in my hood
You’ll see poor kids in Canada that poverty created
As they stand on the corner which man made it

Alcohols Destruction
Life wasn’t fun
When the parents
Had too much rum
I remember
Hiding quietly
Behind the couch
Crying silently
Parents screaming
Very violently
Pops taken by cops
Mom at a shelter
Life in welter
Upon my arrival
To my little home
See a broken stereo
Its plastic pieces
Disfigured so drastic
Glimmering at dawn
On the front lawn

Journey to Healing:
Soul pushes me to mind
Man shushes me says stay behind
What if my intellectual skills,
Is more than average-kind?
Who tells you when you’re right?
Who stops you when you’re wrong?
The world is upside down
That’s right that’s wrong
Mention the tension
Everyone can feel it
Genocidal invention
Creating hypertension
I’m done not making a peep
Finished baaing like a sheep
What feelings can I let go?
How do I heal and grow?

Healing From Liquid Pain
Inspirational wise words
Helped me to see the light
Soar on a sensational flight
Journey on a healthy life
Reality has finally hit me
Spirituality has bit me
I’ve cut the ties that bound
Under alcohols drowned
Set my mind up right
Or I’m losing this fight
In tune with my being
Seeing true meanings
No will to black out
Healthy as a sprout
Allow me to inspire
Only truthful desires

An Aquarius Story
I was born on February 1, 1985 in Geraldton, Ontario.
A snowstorm covered the brown of the Northern town.
The loon clan expanded because of two special parents.
A Capricorn and Aries are the creators of an Aquarius.
Weren’t ready but I’m grateful to be their only child.
Growing up my life was sometimes lonely and unsteady.
Mom and dad’s resiliency always kept our family ready.
Helping them do healing from any painful feeling.
Writing helped me mend the broken pieces of my heart.
I hope these words inspire others to be as smart.

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