Zaag'aan. Love. Love is the only thing that I can think of as I stare at this beautiful child nuzzling my breast. I made you, I think as I caress the cap of dark hair upon my son's head. I cannot believe that I actually grew you inside of me, my beautiful child. Miigwetch, miigwetch Gzhemnidoo. Thank you, thank you Creator.Read Emily Big Canoe's Lost Children
Georgina Island, ON
Chippewas of Georgina Island
I've recently had the opportunity to attend training that addresses violence against Aboriginal women and how it affects the community. Through discussions, we looked at how different events such as the Sixties Scoop led to the breakdown of our traditional society, and it was then that I gained the inspiration to explore the emotions that those impacted by the event may have felt. This piece focuses on a mother who loses her child and was informed that it is because she is was not feeding her child properly, although she was breastfeeding. Exploring the emotions of such an experience proved harder than I originally thought it would be, but I hope anyone reading this enjoys the experience as much as I did.
Zaag'aan. Love. Love is the only thing that I can think of as I stare at this beautiful child nuzzling my breast. I made you, I think as I caress the cap of dark hair upon my son's head. I cannot believe that I actually grew you inside of me, my beautiful child. Miigwetch, miigwetch Gzhemnidoo. Thank you, thank you Creator.
Ngwis. My son. Your entire family love you as much as I do. Your grandmother refuses to let you out of her arms, only relenting when you cry for me to feed you. Oh how I treasure these moments between us, as my body continues to sustain yours. Zaa'gaan giinaan. You are loved.
The connection I feel between us as I feed you is incredibly powerful, stronger than any of my best medicine. I love stroking your gentle face as you lay in my arms, gazing in to my eyes. I always knew that I would love you but I am still overwhelmed by just how deeply my emotions for you run.
Our community has gathered for your naming ceremony. Times have been hard for us in this new land that the white ones have selected for us and some of the families have chosen Christian names for their children, but your father and I hope to bring you up in our traditions and culture as much as possible. I love you my son. I just cannot believe how much I love you. It seems to me that my heart beats for you and only you, that there is hardly any room for anything else. Today is the day that you are to receive your name and it is to be a strong one. The spirits have recognized the power within you and how you will grow to help our family, our community, and all of our people, and have given you the name Jichaag Zhmaagan Spirit Warrior. I am so proud of you my son, your entire family is. My young warrior, our medicine man.
There are many troubles in our new land my son. Our new home doesn't provide enough, even though we pray for the Creator to help us as he has always done. What little we do get is becoming less and less, especially as the pale ones get bolder and come upon our land. Our uncle is in talks with them but they refuse to acknowledge the ways of our people or try to understand our language. They want us to be like them. They took the land our Creator wanted us to share and it seems that they just continue to take, take, take while giving nothing back to the land. I worry about what the future may bring us.
Our children have started to disappear on us. There is one pale man that is always here, people call him an "agent", and it seems that whatever he says happens. One day he pointed at my friend's son and said that he was bad .. the next day the child was gone. He was dragged away by hard faced looking men and women carrying what they call a cross around their necks. I pray for our lost children as I weep for them late in the night. My Creator, please help me comfort these childless parents left behind. I watch you sleeping and pray that you won't be next, although you are still just a baby living on my breast and the missing ones were at least five. I thank you Creator for letting my son stay with me, my innocent child.
A woman from the church came to visit us today. I did not know enough of these people's language to speak easily with her but I was told by our uncle that she is worried about your health and that I am supposed to feed you from a bottle with the formula that she provided. I asked uncle to explain how my body nourishes yours but she just moved on to the next home, leaving the formula behind. I have decided to give it to my cousin, she has been having trouble getting her daughter to latch properly so she might make use of it. I will continue to feed you myself. Jichaag Zhmaagan. I am your mother and I will do what is best for you.
More and more new people continue to enter our community. There is a couple that are around more than others, and we have been told that all of the families with children will be required to visit with them so that they can look at how we care for the children that still live at home. You can see that people in the community are beginning to worry, these people aren't the same as those that take our young ones to their school so why do they want to see how we care for you? Should I be scared? You are still so young. My mother is also worried, and has decided to stay the night to help me prepare our home for tomorrow's visit.
I cannot breathe.
Is this what death feels like? This is worse than death.
Please Creator please. Please do not let this be true.
My heart is gone. The newcomers that I spoke of before paid us a visit, and when they left they took you with them. My son, my light, I am sorry that I could not protect you. I was told that they believed that I was not caring for you properly, they could not find any bottles or formula and claimed that I was neglecting you. I fought them. Jichaag Zhmaagan, know that I fought them for you and that I will continue to fight until you are back with me.
No one knows anything about where you have gone. I have tried endlessly to find out all that I can to bring you back to me, but no one knows exactly what
happened. Our family is deeply hurt as we mourn the loss of you, and ours is not the only one affected. It seems that every mother I meet has lost their young ones, and our uncle cannot shed any light on the situation. You have been stolen from us and I am afraid to admit it but I am starting to lose hope that you will ever be returned to us. I curse my heart for continuing to beat without you here.
I am sorry ngwis. I am so so sorry. Not a single moment passes that I do not cry for you. I am filled with endless sorrow, sorrow and regret that I could not protect you.
So much time has passed since you were taken from me and I have been told to accept that you are gone, but my heart will never stop hurting from needing you. I lack spirit without you, I am lost.
I am lost.