KTAQMKUK IS MY HOME

A Narrative Poem by an Ktaqmkuk Lnu


Ktaqmkuk* *Newfoundland

is my

home.


She is the one who

calls me,

the one I call

mother.


Waves crash

against her rocky

shore,

singing the songs of our

ancestors,

singing the songs of

home.


She is my Kij*, *Mother

my Kumij*, *Grandmother

my Wi’kmaq*. *Family


She is all I long to

know.



 


Ktaqmkuk

is my

home.


Settler men Christened

her terrain

and named her

Newfoundland -

claiming she

had not

been found

before.


As if she had not bore

and raised thousands

of kin,

Before the white man

established her fate,

casting her soul into

the abyss.

She fought to remain

known.



 


Ktaqmkuk

is my

home.


Where settlers

consumed her offerings,

until she was

withered and

worn.


Beat down by the man with

no conventions,

her spirit creased

and folded,

and was sealed by

the Realm*. *Great Seal

of the Realm:

She was suppressed British Monarchy's

from being approval of

known. State documents


 

Ktaqmkuk is my

home.


Her spirit

haunts me -

whispering wisdom

into the night.

She is an

a'tugwewinu.* *Storyteller


Screaming

to be heard,

As her body is

ravaged by

squatters.


She is

crying

to be

known.


 

Ktaqmkuk

was her

home.


The ancestors

welcomed her Kij

with open arms,

as her half-brimmed hourglass

shattered

on the

floor.


Sweeping up the

remnants,

my Kumij was

left with

f r a g m e n t e d kin,

as the Maqamikew* *Land

sheltered her

heart.


She begged

to still be

known.


 

Ktaqmkuk

was still her

home.


A widowed Ujjl*, *Father

called her East to

Sa'n'patistek* - *St. John's

a part of the Maqamikew*

that remained a

mystery.


Promised safety by

Pope Paul VI*, *Pope of the

Her lips Catholic Church

were sealed by (1963-1978)

Christ.


She was

losing what

she had

known.


 

Ktaqmkuk was what

she called

home.


My grandmother’s

bitter tongue

was not her

own.


She did not walk

the path of our

ancestors.


Her tongue had tasted

evil and greed -

the vile, putrid flavour

hitting

every

tastebud,

wrapping itself around like an unwanted

embrace.


She faded

into the

unknown.


 

Ktaqmkuk,

she no longer called

home.


Her bitter tongue

seeped into her veins,

poison

permeated

her core like

Wendigo* *A mythical

Algonquin

Travelling through the creature who

capillaries, possesses a

promising to rejuvenate human body

her heart, & is filled

telling her who and what she with greed

desires.


She is unaware

of the

unknown.




 


Newfoundland

is her

home.


A palate

formerly foreign,

tastebuds altered

to new

preferences.


Commanded to

crave a lifepath,

of Matrimony and

Motherhood -

a journey of

happiness

with a

one

star

review.


He is the

only home she

knows.


 

Newfoundland

is what she called

home.


My grandmother’s

bitter tongue

was not her

own.


An Lnu* *Mi'kmaw person

trapped

in a safehouse,

her kin sheltered in

secrecy.


Until the

poisoned,

tar-like

sand

poured

from her

shattered,

half-brimmed

hourglass,


he had been all

she was forced to

know.


 

Ktaqmkuk

is my

home.



She is the one who

calls me,

the one I call

Kiju.


Waves crash

against her rocky

shore,

singing me songs of our

ancestors,

Singing me

home.


She is my Kumij,

my Wi’kmaq,

my A'tukwaqan*. *Story

She is all

I long to

know.

 

“Ktaqmkuk is my home. She is the one who calls me, the one I call mother.”

 

Kimberlé Crenshaw famously coined the term Intersectionality in 1989* as the idea that members of multiple historically marginalized groups are susceptible to a unique type of subordination. Women who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour (BIPOC), are members of both a marginalized racial group and marginalized gender group and have intersectional experiences that are greater than the sum of racism and sexism. *

When I read her work, I am reminded of my position in the world, because as an Indigenous person who was Assigned Female At Birth (AFAB), I am not simply AFAB, or simply Indigenous. I can summarize Crenshaw’s work to explain this point: My identity makes me a member of both a marginalized racial group and a marginalized gender group, leading to me to have intersectional experiences that are greater than the sum of racism and sexism (Crenshaw, 1989).


As noted throughout the poem, my identity is rooted in a colonial history that ravaged my ancestral land, and stole my family's language and culture, in an attempt to assimilate our people and create carbon-copied, God-fearing citizens. Settlers’ treatment of Indigenous women/Two-Spirit peoples is parallel to the way they extract resources and steal from Mother Earth. Indigenous women are sacred like Mother Earth as they are both life-givers, and to mistreat the land is to mistreat the people. My grandmother losing her connection to our traditional land and being forbidden to practice her culture or speak her language, left a hole in her spirit that never mended. It rippled through the family, causing generations of trauma, and much-needed healing. Her life was that of great loss, bitterness, and secrecy. What I know of my grandmother’s story is woven together by old documents and photos, and a random assortment of my mother’s childhood stories. My grandmother was haunted, and she wore her bitterness on her sleeve.


In writing about mine and my grandmother’s relation to Ktaqmkuk, I find solace in giving the land back its Mi’kmaq name. For generations, colonial forces attempted to erase Ktaqmkuk and her history with the Euro-centric renaming of the land and people, and settlers’ unwillingness to work on reconciliation efforts. Although I have just started learning my language, I wanted to name certain words in Mi’kmaq where they fit throughout my poem. Calling my grandmother Kumij, the land Maqamikew, my family Wi’kmaq, is where I unapologetically reclaim mine and my ancestors’ identities. As an Indigenous Feminist, it is crucial for me to give space to what was lost and is now being found. The ancestors are pulling me back to my roots. In protest of colonization, I call the land her real name, “Ktaqmkuk,” and Indigenize spaces when and wherever I can. It is part of my healing and learning process. While it is at a moderate pace, reclaiming the language and culture is part of reclaiming an identity that was stolen from me by settlers. It is part of healing my intergenerational familial trauma. It is part of my reconciliation.



 

* CRENSHAW ARTICLE (1989)

Crenshaw (1989) Intersectionality
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