Indigenous Arts & Stories - Wet Our Lips.

Wet Our Lips.

2018 - Writing Winner

Kayla Trace

Nanaimo, BC
Cree First Nations
Age 21

Author's Statement

Stories make up who we are. I believe that they're important to share, and not only in writing, but telling a story can hold so much meaning to both the teller as well as the listener. I write this for all of the Indigenous people in Canada who have felt left behind. In our schools, we don't learn about who we are right now, only what our people have done hundreds of years before, and what has been done to our people.

Growing up, I was never connected to my culture and I've been molded in the white ways of thinking. I only vaguely understood myself as Cree, and I today, I'm only just gaining my confidence to tell people that I'm First Nations.

This is a story I share to inspire others to tell theirs. They're powerful, and with enough of them, our future generations will flourish.


Wet Our Lips.

Words rain down, stories wet my braided hair. 
I read history books, but my mouth dries. 
European heroes of yesteryear--  
now they're statues, 
put away in the dank storage rooms of today. 
I've become dehydrated, with the sun beating down 
I'm thirsty to share, to hear those words left untold. 
My skin dries up, and I'm grasping for a glass of water, 
but truth ain't cheap 
and white lies come free.


Our waterways have been eaten away, 
assaulted by a black gold deemed more valuable. 
Spilling, leaking 
into our histories and the stories passed down. 
Rewritten in a language that isn't ours 
stripping the liquid from our souls.

As these words are written down,  
and read to school children

My tongue becomes sandpaper and my throat a dried creek bed. 
My hair crinkles, turning to yellowed grass blades 
kicked from the baked dirt. 
Looking for the stories that will heal chapped lips.


My body is droughted. 
Tell me the stories of our land, recite ceremonial words-- 
Speak to me, in the native tongue that's been lost 
to people of continents far away. 
Who remembers our connection to the trees, 
the mountains, the flowing water?  
On our territory, we were one. 
Still, the land welcomes our spirits, wanting to flourish 
We only need but a crack in the dam, 
to wash away the black liquid that smothers.

Let the rivers flow, let the lakes swell 
Creeks rush outward, rising. 
Words rain down, 
Wetting cracked skin, craters in the dirt, 
Tell our stories, water us with the truth, 
Let our roots spread and branches reach sky ward, 
Feed our souls that have been emptied, 
Re-ignite our history. 
Decipher the words that have been written over, 
erase the stories that lay thick, 
and read the faded words that they think we've forgotten.