Thursday, April 16, 2009


For one of my classes, the assignment was to take an article and write something of my own using the same style as the article.

The following is an excerpt from All My Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Prose by Thomas King

  1. In my family, Joe's the one blessed with that rare gift which allows him to stare at a rock, hear muted voices within, and chisel away the excess until only the rock's inner spirit remains and is set free. He can look at a blank canvas and, with splashing colours and gentle strokes, make a dream dance upon its surface. He hates guns and war and violence. That's when I decide—no matter what—I will not pick up a gun.
  2. It may sound strange, but that summer I feel I've found home for the first time in a long while. I'd left years before to get away from people grown used to silent resignation. I return to find people filled with pride, hope, and even dignity. Inside the barricades, people who haven't spoken to each other in decades over long-forgotten arguments hold hands and stand together in one great circle under the Pines. For at least a little while, they bury the old hatreds. They're just grateful to be alive and free. At times like this, they believe that almost anything is possible. So do I.

    There is such peace behind those barricades. It's easy sometimes to forget the stone-throwing mobs outside. I sit for hours in the Pines and never hear a car break the silence. I listen under those trees while my soul dances to the sound of Mohawk, Mi'kmaq or Kwakiutl voices weaving themselves into the beat of a drum. I don't remember the northern lights being so bright, so intense, so green. My sister's right—the spirits are with the people in the Pines.
  3. On September 28, 1990, after two and a half months, my brother puts down his weapon and "walks home" with forty-six other hold-outs, men and women, out of the barricades and into army detention. I go back to my former wife's reserve north of Ottawa. Too much hate. Three packs of cigarettes a day. A bottle of aspirin and two hours of sleep a night for weeks on end. I collapse. A couple of months later, on a job-hunting expedition to Toronto, a helicopter bursts over the buildings, the sound exploding overhead. I find myself crawling under the back of a parked car. I'm a stumbling, mumbling example of Kanehsatake after the standoff.
  4. The decision to go down one road or the other requires an individual leap of faith into the unknown. It doesn't matter if it is a considered choice or results from the flip of a coin, there's no guarantee the choice is the right one. The signs before the choice and afterward are deceptive, contrary, and confusing. There's often no one to provide a gentle nudge in one direction or the other. Every now and then, however, the voice of an ancestor whispers in your ear, barely heard and rarely recognized. All my relations.
  5. Wash your eyes so you may see clearly. Wash your ears so you may hear again. Wash your head so you may think clear thoughts. Wash your heart to rid yourself of anger, doubt, and fear. Wash your body so you may know who you are and be certain, proud, and strong. Give thanks to the Creator for all who have come before and all those yet to come. Ask for guidance in your actions—not for yourself but so you may keep in mind your children's-children's children. All my relations.

My writing:

In my family, my Aboriginal uncle Gord has a gift which allows him to stare at a canvas, hear whispers and paint away until the story from within is revealed and is displayed clearly. He visualizes a painting before he creates it, and with a rainbow of colors and soft strokes, makes a choreographed sequence upon the canvas. He loves to paint and share and tell. He decided that -no matter what - he would keep doing what he loved.

It may sound odd, but that summer after I met with my uncle; in that pivotal moment, I felt a revelation for the first time in a long time. I realized that the new-found inspiration led me to pursue an education.

When I arrived at University I was used to feeling isolation. Initially, I came into contact with classmates that were cold, shy and even distant. Among the students, Aboriginal classmates were warm and accepting and welcomed me with open arms and we came together in one united front, in equal standing. For the first time I was shown fascinating traditions, such as smudging and healing circles. The healing circles freed me. From barriers and fear, fear of not being heard for who I am. Hear me roar!!

There is such freedom in healing circles. They helped me forget the smothering stereotypes. I sat mesmerized in the circle and didn't hear the outside distractions. I soaked in the truth they were telling me to the beat of distant drums. Voices of my new found friends singing songs of reconciliation. I could feel the spectrum of colors so accepting, so genuine, so free. My new friends were open-the Aboriginal traditions accepted all human kind.

One day in my Aboriginal class, I had a chance to share a presentation about how the Aboriginal people and people with disabilities are connected. I gained a new voice I never knew I had. So much told. Several papers to hand in. Tired but energized by the concepts I was learning. I spoke. A few months into my semester a classmate had me over to his house, a feast of food and celebration, the echo of conversation surrounding me. At the end of the night he presented me with a gift. A beautiful handmade medicine bag, filled with sage and tobacco.

There was a choice I had to make whether or not to go to school. It didn't matter that I was apprehensive or afraid. I wanted to take that leap, no matter what, the decision had been made. There were signals surrounding me that bombarded me from every side.

There were a number of people encouraging me in my pursuit. Every once in awhile the voice of Uncle Gord spoke softly in my ear, perfectly heard and always understood. Reconciliation.

Open my eyes so I can see clearly. Open my ears so I can hear your voice. Open my mind so I can think freely. Open my heart to rid of any opposition and fear. Open my soul so I can be courageous and free. Remember to be grateful to the Father up above and all others that are to come. Plead for assistance in your decisions-not for yourself but for the many generations to follow. Reconciliation.

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