all the elements that make up anishinaabe life through ojibway makwa ikawe embodiment + anishinaabe feminist lens

Month: November, 2012

Honouring Indigenous Women: Heart of Nations, Vol. 2

Honouring Indigenous Women: Heart of Nations, Vol. 2

This collection of poetry, prose, very short non-fiction, and art is a powerful statement about Indigenous women’s lives in Canada today. Wow. I have only just begun reading through it but have been so moved by the pieces I’ve read or viewed so far.

Chi miigwech IPSMO (Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement of Ottawa) for seeking out, gathering, and beautifully putting together and disseminating Indigenous women’s knowledges, experiences, perspectives on life. Miigwech for including critical and compassionate thought from men as well.

My poems “this, her swagger” and “giizhigaatig nibi” (spelled as gizhikaande nibi in publication) live in this collection with the others.

“this, her swagger” was inspired by a number of women who are somehow in my life and represent varying Indigenous Nations. These women not only give me a rush with how they posture, how they carry themselves out in this world, but they also give me a mirror so that I do not have to worry about how I, as Anishinaabe woman, hold myself in the world They define the movement and form of Indigenous women and affirm that in our homeland we don’t have to carry ourselves out in accordance with Western (occupying) standards of (white) womanhood, femininity, or propriety. “we gots our city/and this, our swagger”. This poem is for all Indigenous women whose postures carry some always-knowing, vague memory, or reclaimed knowledge of our sovereignty, our righteousness, our relentless, and our beauty in our homelands. It is also for the Indigenous woman sitting in her living room with a CAS worker; the one standing up to her abuser–be they a love(r) or police officer; the woman in the doctor’s office taking on all those attitudes; the woman sex-working; the one looking the judge in the eyes or leaned up against jail-cell bars; the one sitting across the room from the social worker who never once asked about PTSD due to colonization or pondered how their  privilege is contributing to the depression; the one at intake in the women’s shelter; the one at the bank trying to get a cheque cashed; her there walking down the street or through the perfume section at Sears; the one sitting on a cement curb being with the day…

“this, her swagger” will be included in my poetry manuscript called, “City & Cedar” which explores Anishinaabe women’s decolonization, resistance in & against the (colonial) city, and coming to consciousness about self through Anishinaabe women’s knowledge and medicine. It resolves itself in and through Anishinaabe meanings of the city, odenaang–the place where we bury our placentas, the place where our hearts are.

“giizhigaatig nibi” is a poem that reflects a nuance of Anishinaabe love: it is about two people who honour their own individual sexuality and that of their partner/lover, enjoy expressions of gentle caring between each other, and share a kind of intimacy that nurtures loving lust. They are immersed in Anishinaabe life. As a matter of recovering from and thriving while living occupied lives, I wish this poem for myself, my family, and all Anishinaabeg as much as possible.

“giizhigaatig nibi” will be included in a dossier of creative explorations called Anishinaabe Love. This body of work is inspired by my dissatisfaction of dominant (colonial, western, canadian) meanings of ‘love’. More specifically, my upset with having colonial meanings of love being imposed without even knowing it and simultaneously eroding Anishinaabe meanings of love. I feel robbed of something beautiful; invigorated by the potential of learning about something that is life-giving. This project is me wondering out loud what Anishinaabe love looks, feels, tastes, smells, touches, moves, works, etc. like. It illuminates lived and imagined Anishinaabe meanings of love by intersecting contemporary reality with Anishinaabe knowledge, oral history, cosmology, and aadisokaanan (sacred stories). Zaagidewin–the art of exposing your heart, or letting it emerge–is the starting point for my exploration of Anishinaabe love.

lit up right (a poem inspired by Oshkimaadziig Camp)

oshkimaadziig agenda at



ain’t happenin’

under the cover of


we’re all lit up

right bright

with seven fires

never tire

gunna light us into eight

the shkode way

this camp starts out

in coldwater, ontario

where some be playin’, so

much settler and farmers

from history,


their story

of white supremacy

from what i can see

no room for nee-chies

only settlers and farmers

museum b.o.d. & a.r.t. charmers

they don’t even listen

to their own

educated ones,

their own

beating-heart people

who come

and visit

and they say Oshkiimaadziig

trespasses on private property

play nice guy and then the heavy

trespassing on private property?

but how can that be

when Canada did say

“we’ll pay”

and the end of that sentence goes like this:

we’ll pay

to stay

on land we’re occupyin’

through the delusion and fraud

of private property

and don’t tell our citizens we’ve been lying

about the generations of their labour and trying

working and saving

to buy a bungalow

to grow

canadian family

and history


our story

white supremacy

no don’t tell them we’ve been lying

that our citizens our occupyin’

Your Land

and pay us to do it;

just take the big pay

and let it all go away

chiefs and councils too


what educated young

beating heart people

wanna do,

and friends, enemies

old lovers, frenemies,

some old ones and teachers say

take the pay

we need to eat

for another day

see no other way

            want to

ease the pain

feed the yearning

that’s been nurtured

through 400 years

of canada’s colonization

of us

our old people

our babies

(our future?)

the yearning

for more

the yearning

to feel good enough

or better

to have

what consuming canadians

who occupy our lands


flat screen tvs, walt disney,

the latest technology,

what their government

tells them they have

but here’s the thing:

this round of Oshkimaadziig,

Kai Kai Kons




know the pay-day will

“make it all go away”

into a new day

where we’ve sold

all our relatives

the plants

the bees

the water, even in the trees

the wind that’s moves it all

the deer, the crow

whitefish and minnow

erase the land

where we ceremony

asemaa memory


Our Places

and the spaces

we need to


and re-emerge

our walk,


our sounds


our ways,


our knowledges

and ways of knowing,


oshkimaadziig agenda at



ain’t happening

under the cover

of dark,

we’re all lit up

right bright

with fire

we’re all lit up

right bright

with fire

lit up with the light

of a seven fire


and the light of


making eighth fire


and we just want to say,

we’re not going away

cuz we’re lit up

just right.

by waaseyaa’sin christine sy

minokimii nogojowanong


(late spring in Peterborough)


shko-day –  fire

b.o.d. – board of directors

a.r.t. –  aboriginal relations team aka police

asemaa – lead medicine, tobacco

ishkigamizigan: the sugarbush

ishkigamizigan: the sugarbush

I am THRILLED by the recent publication of “Resurgence of Indigenous Women’s Knowledge and Resistance in Relation to Land and Territoriality” in InTensions: E-Journal through York University’s Fine Arts Department.

Editors Leanne Simpson, Wanda Nanibush, and Carol J. Williams have got me crying with this publication. 

My own audio poem is included and I feel so happy to have my work published in such a collection and honoured to be amongst the contributors. My poems have lived on the page and in public readings for some time now. Being exposed to poets such as Janet Rogers, Rosanna Deerchild, Louise Halfe, and Gregory Scofield, in REAL LIVE PERFORMANCES, inspired me to be more present with the poetry that comes to me and listen to her desire to be alive in different ways. I decided to not only write a piece for this publication but to record this piece with the sounds of the sugarbush.

The technical aspects and newness of it all were intimidating and exhilarating. Chi-miigwech to my friend Zoongde who helped me in the recording of this and creation of the sounds. 

Nogojowanong Migwe Dodaa: I Live at the Mouth of the River

Nogojowanong Migwe Dodaa: I Live at the Mouth of the River

An article I wrote about making sense of where I live and what this means in terms of decolonization for myself and my family. It was written specifically for the university community and published by Trent’s independent newspaper, The Arthur.

“Campers Walking Sovereignty Talk”

“Campers Walking Sovereignty Talk”

An article on Oskimaadziig Camp I wrote this past summer, published in Anishinaabek News, p. 5.