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?
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.
Miriam, Mary, Maryam, how will my garden grow?
Mata Sindhu, were we always dancers?
How did you find and capture joy?
Peek-a-Boo!! ~ Do you see me now beloveds?
I learn over and over again that tuning into spontaneous expression
is the key to presence and showing up to our life.
People often ask me why I dance.
to get out of my head
to commune with the sacred
to feel my power
to bliss out
to be with my pain
to process my emotions
to express what I can’t in words
I Dance to Celebrate,
I Dance to Create.
Why Do You Dance?
and….Tag – You`re it!
A daughter of the Indus River and the Sindhu people, Kanwal Rahim often weaves dance, storytelling and humour into all her artistic expressions. Her poetry and dance reflects her nomadic and hyphenated upbringing in Pakistan, Egypt, UAE and Canada. Drawing on her diverse experiences in performing arts, she continues to explore new body wisdom practices and healing traditions to deepen awareness and connection, with a focus on honouring the integrity of the body. Kanwal has graced many stages in Toronto and is currently working on her first collection of poetry and songs.
Follow her on instagram here.
Photo: Amber Ellis ~ Creating Light Photography
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”.
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
How does your spirituality; being that it is a synthesis of Hinduism, Islam and traditional African beliefs, inform your view on how we are all connected to each other as human beings?
ps. what is the Dewji/Mohamed family recipe for Kuku Paka?
I would like you to know that it is ok to feel like you don’t fit in.
It is ok to be different from anything you see around you.
You can find community inside and outside of humanity.
Nature is your community, also.
You share space with every little green thing on this earth.
Talk to them.
My name is Alysha Brilla. I was born Alysha Mohamed. I was born to parents of very different ethnic/cultural/religious backgrounds and I do believe that has largely shaped who I am as a person. I’m an artist; specifically drawn to the frequency of music and sound. Rhythm has carried me through periods of depression and existential questioning in my life, so I write songs with the intention of offering hope to others. My mother’s background is of European/Canadian settler history and my father immigrated to Canada from Tanzania. My father’s family is of mainly Gujarati-Indian heritage, but were in Tanzania for 200+ years and we know one of my ancestors was Indigenously African. There is a hybridized spirituality I carry with me.
Visit Alysha’s website here.
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Can you hear me?
What are the ways that I can honour you?
What can I do in my every day to make you feel remembered?
Are you and I ever to cross paths again?
And if so, what would you like me to bring to you?
Your intuition is the only voice that should lead you.
Know it intimately.
Even if much time has passed since you last listened to it,
now is always the right time to listen.
Whitney French is a writer, storyteller and multi-disciplinary artist. She is a daughter of Jamaican parents of the African Diaspora, from the lineage of Maroon warriors, with subtle Chinese bloodlines, and a blending of many unknown lineages. Whitney has been published in a couple of places but she takes more pride in the community she builds than the things she produces. Visit her website, IG, FB and twitter to learn more.
Photo: Aden Abebe
Sheniz Janmohamed is the curator and creator of Questions for Ancestors. Her ancestors left Kutch and Gujarat, India, for the highlands of Kenya in the 1880s.