Our Legacy

God’s head was not turned
when our people were created.
His eyes were not closed.
Nor his thoughts far away
on a task of more import.
His mind was not distracted,
Nor his heart locked away
in a dark, uncaring place,
unaware of our existence.
For God was our Creator too.

With gentle hands and loving heart,
from four parts of Creation,
he moulded our ancient ones.
He placed his loving words
inside their hearts and minds
He breathed his guiding spirit
into the center of their soul,
and in so doing,
made Anishinaabe whole.

He showed us his existence
and inspired us to voice and sing
our love and praise for him
and for all of Creation he had made,
as well as for the life he had bestowed.
A life and land which he had always clearly meant
to be forever ours
to use and to protect
for all of our time here on this earth

We loved our Gitche Manitou
and believed that he felt only love for us.
Deep within the center of our souls,
we lived and breathed that thought
Because our faith was strong.
We truly knew what we were meant to know.
For our right to be
was told in our Creation story
and all such teachings always held us true.

And then those others came
and with their twisted thoughts and words and tongues
declared that all his work with us was false
and that our sense of Him was wrong.
They made us deeply sick with growing doubt
as, slowly, harshly,
like a rising tide
they drowned or drove away our spirit
piece by piece,
child by child,
so that when we woke one dark and lonely day
we found
our spirit and our faith had shrivelled
and were gone.

And when we cried in pain
They said it was a sign our god was weak
and that it was a sign their god was strong
and that we should fall down upon our knees
and pray with them
and somehow that would save us
from that evil place
where dwelt our Gitche Manitou
a place we once had deeply called our own.

They did not know
that it was in their doubt
where dwelt the source of illness
that infected all they touched
in this part
of our Manitou’s creation.

They took us off our spirit road
And tried to make us walk inside their shoes
but when we looked behind
We could not see
The point from which our journey had begun
And when we looked ahead,
we could not hear
the voices of our mothers calling out
Nor see the light of fires
Showing our way home
We were confused and felt like we were lost

And so
Our spirits ran away and hid
in places dark and safe
So they would be protected
strong and pure
Ready to embrace and be embraced
When it was time.

Our minds and bodies,
left behind,
sometimes filled the void
with other spirit teachings
And in those foreign words
some solace found
Yet many could not, would not,
And so, emptied of their love of life
they staggered through existence
falling, rising, falling,
sometimes lying still
waiting for it all to end

And when the law of man
at last declared this wrong
and asking for forgiveness
offered words and beads
designed to cure our broken lives,
they still did not believe
such things alone could not repair,
They still cannot believe
our healing starts from deep within the soul
Where the spirit placed there by Creator sits

They do not understand
That our spreading sickness
lies within the fact
we had and have no way
to fight the racist’s sin
and when we are inflicted
we can no longer sing our healing songs
for all our healing voices have been stilled
and some forever gone

But now that we are finally freed
Of heavy chains of aging pain
many go in hungry search
of spirits so long hidden, almost lost
And there is great rejoicing
in connections strongly made.

But sadly some have found
their spirits have been locked away,
so well and and for so long
that they can not be found.

Mizana Gheezhik

About Senator Murray Sinclair (retired)

Ojibway Anishinaabe Inini Mizhanagheezhik (n’dizhinikaaz) Namiigoonse (n’dodem) Lawyer, Mediator, Public Speaker Currently Canadian Senator for Manitoba Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba (2001-2016) Associate Chief Judge off the Manitoba Provincial Court) (1988-2001) Co-Commissioner of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba) (1988-91) Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquiry Judge (1997-2000) Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2009-2015) Thinker, poet, writer, philosopher, speaker.
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1 Response to Legacy

  1. Ron Stringer says:

    This is lovely and powerful, Senator, thanks. I don’t think a lot of people really get the damage to the spirit that has been done by the colonial system. Viktor Frankl called it “anomie”, a loss of meaning due to the loss of culture, but that is a little too passive sounding. This “dispirited syndrome” certainly has anomie as a symptom, but colonialism and racism are the causes, I think, corroding and stripping the culture away.
    If you ever get the urge to discuss this, I’d love to. I’m a psychologist, off work due to chronic illness, and am Métis from Ontario, currently living in Montreal.
    Thanks for keeping the government’s feet toward the toaster, lately. So glad you took that Senate seat. We need a council of elders to watch over parliament!


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