In heart-wrenching detail, Louise Halfe recalls the damage done by the residential schools to her parents, her family, and herself in her new poetry collection. Coming April 2016. Order your copy at www.coteaubooks.com.
"And on another time / after a women’s night sweat, / lying in the dry grass / I saw / my grandmother, my auntie, my mother / my sister, my daughter and me / faces walking in her celestial light." - Excerpt from Solstice – the flame by Louise Bernice Halfe. Photograph: Four generations. Louise's mother on the left, her grandmother holding her niece Dawn Half-Reid and her brother Peter Ivan Half.
"Have you heard a buffalo snort and paw? A bear grunt? / A goose honking from the lake? / Watched a horse flick its tail and dance? / Or seen an oriole flash orange in the trees? / Felt hornet’s sting? / She was all of these, that was my mother. / I knew her no other way." Photograph: Wedding of Louise Halfe's mother and father. November 4, 1939.
"This book is dedicated to my children, Usne Josiah Butt and Omeasoo Wahpasiw as well as my grandsons Josiah Kesic Butt and Alistair Aski Butt." - Dedication, from Burning in this Midnight Dream. Photograph: Josiah Kesic is holding the book, Alistair Aski is looking on.
"I was called One Who Speaks With One Mouth / papēyakitōn, always searching / behind the questions. / But I never inquired enough how to find my way. / I stumbled within this silenced history." - Excerpt from tipiyawēwisīw – ownership of one’s self by Louise Bernice Halfe
"Confusion was the ultimate glutton. / He came from far away / wore black robes and carried a crucifix. / He was armed with laws, blankets / and guns. / He fixed us with a treaty / that he soon forgot." - Excerpt from āniskōstēw – connecting by Louise Bernice Halfe
"I want to know the power of the hummingbird / how it handles it’s long flight / what beauty, what turbulence it sees. / I want to know how I too can hover / to survey my distant journey. / I want to know how I can bring beauty / and drink the nectar of delight." - Excerpt from A Hummingbird by Louise Bernice Halfe
"The children were meat / for the scavengers. Indian Affairs, the brick walls, / the Saints of many churches. / Filled with their disease, we ate the maggots / off their dead. / This cannibalism devoured our mother’s hearth." - Excerpt from Con Game by Louise Bernice Halfe
"Sit by the kotawān – the fire place. / Drink muskeg and mint tea. / Hold your soul / but do not weep. / Not for me, not for you. / Weep for those who haven’t yet sung. / Weep for those who will never sing." - Excerpt from Dedication to the Seventh Generation by Louise Bernice Halfe
"These poems are testimonies of truth, justice and healing. These poems are gifts. I invite you, the reader, to read and reflect upon them with open minds and humble hearts. Then share them with others. They unsettle us in a good way. They inspire us. They give us hope." - Introduction to Burning in this Midnight Dream by Paulette Regan, author of Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada
"Now we seek to define reconciliation. We must first know the deeper truth however. Celebrate the survivors and the lost. Understand the way forward. At the very least get out of the way. We will survive as a people. Rise up and be proud. Reoccupy our land. And live." - Preamble, Burning in this Midnight Dream. More information on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.