Say the Names...

Al Purdy wrote a wonderful poem called "Say the names say the names" which celebrates the names of Canadian rivers - Tulameen, Kleena Kleene, Similkameen, Nahanni, Kluane and on and on in a celebratory song.

Enbridge is planning to build a dual pipeline that will carry bitumen and condensate across hundreds of waterways between Edmonton and Kitimat. Some of these waterways are rivers like the Parsnip (or what's left of it), the Nechako, the Morice and others are smaller creeks whose names are often known only to the folks who live along their banks or who fish in their shadows or who bend to wash or drink as they cross paths.

I want to collect the names of these rivers and creeks, to collect your stories, your poems, your songs so we can collectively give voice to the land living under the line Enbridge plans to draw.

People have also sent me copies of their presentations to the community oral presentations. If you'd like to add your voice, email me ( your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.

All the best.
Sheila Peters

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Engussi Wedzin Kwah by Jennifer Wickham

Thanks to our new library director, Wendy Wright for telling me about Jennifer Wickham's amazing poetry in I'm a Real Skin - the Smithers library has a copy, you can buy it at Mountain Eagle Books in Smithers, and you can source it from Jennifer's webpage. 

Jennifer has given me permission to post her poem about the river many of us call the Morice or Bulkley.

She is my healer
a  consoling friend
a life giver, a grandmother
a sister to the ancient ones
she heard the songs and touched the skin
of the Original Wet'suwet'en
sacred knowledge in every drop,
but we forgot
we try to listen with our ears
time has made us deaf to her
there's too much background noise.
the smog is in our souls

shhhhhh.....can you hear her cry for you?

I need a job, I need a new car
I just bought a new eco-friendly travel mug from *fill in the blank*...
It's funny right?
The love of my life is not my cell phone
a flat screen tv or my shoes

Engussi Wedzin Kwah!

I don't need to tell you how beautiful she is
how her clear blue/green sparkles in the sun
or how her glacial currents take your breath away
and jump starts your soul and very cell in your body
how her voice sings you alive
this isn't that kind of love poem

Let's get back to listening....

What are the names of your rivers?
Can you hear them inside you?
Let's resurrect those words together
ALL our words, all at once
I want to feel all those hard and soft sounds
hitting me at the same time
just let me absorb the words of our ancestors
like Wedzin Kwah
but I'm not a river

I am a Wet'suwet'en woman
my purpose is clear

Like ancient protocol and boundaries
I'll show you where the line is
we were born her guardians
warriors watch over Wedzin Kwah