How can I?

Ancestors,

 

I have thought and thought and I don’t know if I have any questions for you. I know your words were stolen, your stories and bodies turned into sites of shame. I wouldn’t want to burden you with questions you might not want to answer, or memories you may not want to recount. So I guess I have no questions to ask of you. I only have gratitude for you. Because of you, I’m here. Because of you, my daughter is here. Because of you, we still have a small patch of land to call home, a place we can speak our languages and hold our ceremonies together to make our nations strong.

Maybe I do have a question or two after all.

How can I make you most proud?

How can I best show my appreciation for all that you’ve done?

 

 

Descendants,

 

You are worth all the struggles I’ve had to endure and will have to endure in my life.

You are worth it all.

 

 

 

Alicia Elliott is a Tuscarora writer living in Brantford, Ontario. Her writing has been published by The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, The Walrus, Macleans, Globe and Mail and many others. Her essay “A Mind Spread Out on the Ground” won Gold at the National Magazine Awards this past May and has been selected to be published in Best Canadian Essays 2017. She has most recently been named the 2017-2018 Geoffrey and Margaret Andrew Fellow at UBC.

Follow her on twitter @WordsandGuitar.

 

WHY ME?

Ancestors,

 

Why me?

This is an updated question to the one I invariably asked—“What does that even

MEAN?”—when I was growing up and my mother periodically reminded me to

“remember who I was”.

 

Descendants,

 

You get to choose who you will become.

I am still learning this.

 

 

Born and raised in Calcutta, India, Ayesha Chatterjee has lived in England, the USA and Germany and now calls Toronto home. Her publisher, Bayeux Arts, has just released her second poetry collection, Bottles and Bones, available from the Bayeux website, Knife Fork Book  & other bookstores throughout North America.

Follow her on twitter here.

Photo: Katja Ganesh Photography