when you’re in the bush

look for dead spruce

grey and leaning sideways

that’s where the muskeg is

i’m at renfrew

waiting for the bus

to bring me to the final witnessing


apparently i’m supposed to heal today

muskeg will swallow a human whole

moose have sunk to the bottom

so i’m told

so i tell

people from the city

i call my kokum and tell her

i’m going to listen

to speakers and survivors

from that system

you survived

permafrost doesn’t let

the water through

the decomposing wood and bugs and spirits


she tells me

no… she orders me

to find the answers to why

she wasn’t allowed

to heal with this nation


her story wasn’t big enough

to be in the sad chapter

of this country’s history


moss covers



unknown beings

below the surface

i listen to moniyawak

with talking heads

talk about

r e c o n c i l i a t i o n

and healing

and r e c o n c i l i a t i o n

and healing

and witnessing

and healing

someone hands me a tissue because

i’m supposed to be crying

on display

i don’t get the answers my kokum wants


there is medicine that grows

by the muskeg

that has a twin

that is poisonous

i tell my kokum

that the lady at the event

gave me a toll free number to call

my kokum says

she has called

my mom has called

my auntie has called

that dead end

swampland doesn’t heal

it regenerates

and makes the dead


they destroyed the last day school

in ile-a-la-crosse

or so i read in the news

i carry my ancestor’s

in my body

and maybe my body

isn’t so different

than muskeg

full of frost

but supporting life

strong enough to hold

the growth of others

but deep enough

to swallow

 spirits whole

we carry the women

of our past generations

in our DNA

we hold their traumas

and their love

and we pass that down

in blood

that has been boiling

for 150 years.






2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hai Hai. I took my child to the closing ceremony, even knowing that our part of the story was missing. Your words always inspire me

  2. Marie says:

    Samantha you’re a powerful, beautiful writer thank you for your story xo

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