Author Archives: Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas

About Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca Thomas is a Mi'kmaw woman, activist and poet. She is the sixth and current Poet Laureate for Halifax and the only indigenous person named to this role. (Photo credit: Matthew Madden)

Etuaptmumk

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I lost my talk, said Rita Joe.
For me, I was never given the option to know.
The feel the flow of the words as they rolled off my tongue.
Giving me the lyrics of how our world was sung.
My perspective was spun using the threads of both your world and theirs,
Left to cobble together a spirit from rags and tears.
Painfully aware that I was different.

Through hard work and determination
I found my Indigenous articulation,
A compilation of two ways make up the sum of me.

You have two eyes.
Yet you only have one view,
Your way is best you would argue.
Centuries of being in the position to subdue those who would aspire.
They say that the sun never set on the British Empire.
And because we recognized the hubris that defines your story.
We have a sunrise and sunset in our territory,

With my heart and eyes, I have a completely different view,
The consequence of my skin comes in an entirely different hue.
Don’t you see? Although you represent us,
We think very differently than you.
Because we see the world not through one set of eyes,
But through two.
Thousands of years long, we were independent, proud and strong.
We belonged to this earth, the way power belongs to money and privilege to birth.
We put our communities first.

But then came the fleets.
Filled with those, YOU would ironically define today, as “come from away.”
To invade every inch of our world.
To break our spirit and pull the threads that would unfurl us to catch the way you speak.
But this is not the poem for the retelling of a one sided history.
Each of our worlds has its strengths.
Yours is in power,
It gets to eat its cake and define race.
It has the ability to unapologetically take up space.
If societal progress is linear, this society is top tier.
Terra nullius, as though we were never here.
It must be nice to be so confident.

Your strength is that this society is ubiquitous
Built on reified rubrics of tradition and rhetoric.
Your notions of diversity are ad hoc in nature.
An after thought feature to an immovable structure.
This isn’t a conviction or an acquittal,
Just the voice coming from an eye honed to be critical,
Who does not shy away from the opportunity to be political.
If you push our two sides of a Venn together you’ll get a circle.

We were never meant to be static.
Like the rivers around us, we shift and change and remain dynamic.
We bring to the table something that is able to change your worldview and show you what we are capable of.
That a lot can come from a holistic concept of the Earth.
You are not a plague nor we a curse or a problem in need of a solution.
But we’ve got to rid ourselves of the spiritual dissolution.
The dilution of our treaties written to share this land.
And we ask that you understand that we are the experts on what we need.
Don’t feed us your good intentions
Carefully laid apologies will not get you an historical exemption.
We plan out our actions for the next seven generations and we ask that you do that same.
Open your other set of eyes
Recognize the pain you have caused
Take a pause and start breathing.
Welcome to the world of Two Eyed Seeing.

eclipse

Keeper of the Spark of Life by Melissa Sue Labrador