Friday, November 17, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This: Lee Maracle, Speaking Truth to Power

This powerful poem is read by Lee Maracle, one of the foremost poets and writers in Canada. Ms. Maracle  is from Vancouver, B.C., a member of the Sto:lo Nation, of Salish and Cree ancestry. She is a granddaughter of the renowned Chief Dan George, of North Vancouver. She was one of the first aboriginal writers to be published  in Canada in the early 1970's. Ms. Maracle now lives and teaches in Toronto.

I could not have written this, as I am not a member of First Nations. But I empathize with how this beautiful nation of people - the first who lived on this land for thousands of years - was displaced, marginalized and oppressed by those who arrived here much later. And I so admire Ms. Maracle's strong voice, speaking truth to power.

Her above poem, "Aboriginal Apology", is a triumphant response to the Canadian government's lame attempts to address reconciliation these last few years. So far apologies have been inadequate. Perhaps because reparation would go further than words in addressing the injustices done to an entire people since colonial times.

In articles I have read about her, one of her quotes stood out for me:

"Where do you begin telling someone
their world is not the only one?"


Ms. Maracle has written many books: novels, works of nonfiction,  and poetry. She has edited several anthologies.  She is also an educator, social activist, performance artist, storyteller, playwright, songwriter and Artistic Director of the largest aborginal theatre in Canada, in Toronto.

Ms. Maracle has given hundreds of speeches on political, historical, and feminist sociological topics  related to native people. She has conducted dozens of workshops on personal and cultural reclamation, serving as a consultant on First Nations’ self-government. She has an extensive history in community development.

Lee Maracle is one of the most prolific aboriginal authors in Canada. Her life and her voice are inspiring to all generations. I thought I would introduce her to you, so those outside of Canada can hear her voice, speaking truth to power with such strength.

The long list of her works can be found here

Here is another example of her work.


Do you speak your language?
I stare—I just said: how are you?
I thought English was my language
apparently it isn’t
I thought Halkomelem was gibberish
the devil’s language
that’s what the nuns said
apparently not
Some white guy sets me straight:
Aboriginal people are losing languages
Funny, I thought I had it just a moment ago
maybe it’s in Gramma’s old shoebox
maybe it’s sandwiched between papers
in plastic bags hidden under mom’s bed
Hey, has anyone seen my language?
              Will my words dangle from empty raped mountains?
               laid waste on dead seas
              Or will they sing sweet from the skirt of winds
               remembered songs of hope not realized?

              I weave this imagined dream world onto old
              Suquamish blankets,
              history-hole-punched and worn—
              to re-craft today,
              to re-member future in this new language.
             And I sing I am home again.

              Lee Maracle, from Talking To the Diaspora, 2015

I do hope you enjoyed meeting this amazing and powerful woman.  

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. Wow Sherry! These are some strong words. So powerful. Oppressed voice will definitely rise from all over the world.Thanks for introducing Ms. Maracle. Feeling enriched.

  2. Voices are rising all over the world. May they be heard. May power shift from those who will not hear, to those who lead us in a conscious, inclusive way.

    I am having major internet problems this morning. Will be back when i resolve them. Sigh.

  3. Sherry, when you said the poet is a granddaughter of Dan George, my 'ears' picked up. I have a book with his wisdom. From what you have shared of her, I admire her greatly. The poem is a strong one. I do hope that aboriginal languages ARE maintained and not lost..but I know that it is already too late for some. Thanks, Sherry, for this inspiring feature.

    1. Many First Nations communities are working hard to preserve and pass down the languages of their people while the elders are still here. In Tofino, there are young people actively learning, and it makes me happy.

  4. Wow Sherry what an amazing woman and poet....I love her quote as it is so profound! So happy you shared her with us.

  5. Yes, wow indeed! Thanks for standing in for me while I'm busy with family stuff – and how glad I am that the opportunity arose, so we could all experience this powerful voice and message.

    1. I'm glad you are having a wonderful time, Rosemary. Next week, i have another poet who will knock your socks off, as well. Am enjoying this gig. Smiles.

  6. "Everyone eats is our law ... there is no word for exclusion in our language." Speak! Thank you for introducing Lee Maracle, Sherry.

  7. At every event, First Nations feeds us, as is their tradition. How i love there being no word for exclusion. I wish that would spread across the planet.

  8. We can learn so much from indigenous cultures. I so much enjoyed this poetry, so full of true forgiveness - but not forgetting. Thank you so much Sherry.

  9. A powerful and emotion poem - filled with wisdom and dignity. The reading gave me shivers - very, very impactful. This is such an important piece. Thank you for introducing me to the brilliant, accomplished and talented Lee Maracle, Sherry.

    1. ... oops - a bit too quick on the 'publish' button ... it should read 'a powerful and emotive poem'.

      Also, I did want to add my voice, in solidarity, with the truly important and urgent issue of addressing reconciliation. Our government's failure to properly and thoroughly tackle the injustices and oppression that have been perpetrated again Canada's First Nations has dragged on for far too long ... so much so, it is widely viewed as a national disgrace.

    2. I so agree, Wendy. And still going on.......

  10. We have similar problems in Australia with the Aborigines.I think the situation may be worse for the indigenous people down here in regard to discrimination etc.

  11. Beautiful share, thank you Sherry. Are you sure you don’t have some First Nation blood running through your veins? I’m sure you feel like an adopted daughter, because your soul connects so much to Mother Earth..


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