Indigenous Arts & Stories - I am 10 years old

I am 10 years old

2018 - Writing Winner

Astokomii Smith

Arrowwood, AB
Age 18

Author's Statement

The main focus of this poem is to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and to put it into a perspective that makes it personal. Another aspect of the poem is to show that many MMIWG are just young girls. Lastly, I wanted to make it apparent that the person (Natalia) I was portraying was just like any other girl, more specifically like any other non-Indigenous girl but was still a target because she was Indigenous and that was visible to the attacker which is the case for many MMIWG. Indigenous women and girls across Canada face greater risks of violence and homicide compared to other races. Statistically, Indigenous women 15 years and older were 3.5 times more likely to experience violence than non-Indigenous women, according to the 2004 General Social Survey. The RCMP made a report about MMIWG in 2013 and stated that 1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012 – a homicide rate that is roughly 4.5 times higher than all other women in Canada. Not only is violence against Indigenous women and girls more common but it is also more severe. There is a lot of statistical evidence that shows the frequency of MMIWG but these statistics don’t show the impacts and trauma brought onto the communities and families who have lost their mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunties and cousins due to violence.
In the light of recent events, the case of Tina Fontaine who was murdered at the age of 15 in August 2014 has influenced the topic of my poem and has touched the hearts of many, extraordinarily when her murderer Raymond Cormier was found ‘not guilty’ as of February 2018 – this is just one of the many cases that remain unjustified, unsolved or remain missing.


I am 10 years old

My name is Natalia,

I am 10 years old.

I will never be older than just 10.


I will never graduate

I will never fall in love

I will never have children of my own

I will never live the life I was given

I am 10 years old.


Although, in my 10 years of existence

I was taught not to fear the white man but to keep my distance

I was taught how to dress appropriately so no one would stare

I was raised Catholic because my grandmother said our ways are shameful

I spoke English and not one word of our mothers tongue

It felt wrong,

But I did as I was told.


On that cold day,

I had to walk home from school,

a route I walked almost every day.

A man, with the gentlest smile

offered me a ride home,

I rejected his offer kindly,

A man, with the gentlest smile

did not like to be told “no.”


He told me he loved Native girls like me.


In those moments I questioned,

I dress like all the white girls?

I talk like all the white girls?

Not an ounce of Aboriginality was inside me

Except for my blood.

But still,

I was a target because

A man, with the gentlest smile

loved Native girls like me.


I was deflowered

I was robbed of my innocence

I received the kiss of death

I am 10 years old.


My body was found 16 days later.

Yes, you read that right

s i x t e e n   d a y s

No finger prints


Not a trace left behind by

A man, with the gentlest smile.


I am 10 years old and I will never be older than just 10.

I don’t mind though,

because there are plenty other girls just like me,

here, in this Spirit World.