I’m Proud of Where I Come From

by Gabriel Castilloux Calderón

 

I’m proud of my people

Of the scrap and stoodis stand your ground attitude

Of the ability to make something out of nothing like leaving your great uncles old broken down rusted pick up in the driveway for decades cuz you never know

Don’t care about cut lawns 

We got lungs to smudge and smoke signals to puff

Proud of the warriors whose timely placed throws of bone arrows became pens on thesis papers whose war cries became protest marching chants

Proud of the accented anishnabeemowin lullabies hushed from genderqueer mother’s lips to babies raised on KD and chicken tenders 

Proud of the neechies who put themselves into treatment for the 18th time cuz they got grandkids that need em sober

Proud of the hustle working 3 jobs to feed their babies 

Birthing in the bush. No birth certificate. All tradish

Proud of the 9-year-old drummers and 2-year-old dancers. Proud of the kokums’ beadwork. And the meshoms who still wake at dawn to smudge themselves

Proud of the earth that beats to my heart and the songs in my blood and the growl in my gut

Proud of the high-school moose-call competitions and the powwow practices instead of dodgeball gym classes

Proud that the mushkiki in the bush speaks to me and the ancestors visit me

Proud that I’m mixed white, living proof of this nation’s colonial history

Proud to be neechie zhaganash

My children will be Mestiza (mixed), too

Proud of southern native meeting northern native like our ancestors used to walk for days to trade with each other before white men built walls built colonial borders but the land knows our DNA knows our union knows bringing forth babies is a tradition as old as time

Proud of the resilience in indigenous language apps and the sweep of contour on nish drag queens’ cheekbones

Proud of those artist NDN’s making cat memes like it’s our Mona Lisa, like generations to come will know us by our solid meme game

Proud of the lip pointing, swag-hipped, sound effect chee-yah conversations 

Proud of the Nishglish speakers, that Woah bro! Tebwewin! 

Proud that our youth are making Youtube rap videos in their grandmother’s tongues

Proud of the urban NDN healers doing limpias and smudging in their living rooms

Proud of the university pipe ceremonies

Proud that as neechies we took contemporary and made traditional from it, turned our culture, once a crime, into an anthem song

Turned genocide into resilience, turned our subjugation into rebellion, turned starvation into bannock

Proud that we are stronger, and as long as the rivers flow, the sun shines, and the crow flies, we will rise…

  

Ever deadly eh?

 

 

Gabriel Castilloux Calderón (they/them) is nij-manidowag (two spirit) Mi’kmaqAlgonquin, Scottish and French CanadianThey currently thrive in Cree/Blackfoot/Salteaux/Nakota Sioux Treaty 6 territory (Edmonton)Gabriel is actively involved in several different forms of traditional indigenous culture and ceremony, as a drummer, and a grass and buffalo dancer, and proudly celebrates an addiction-free life. Gabriel is a 3rd place short story contest winner in 2018 with “Ishkode” in Prairie Fire. They were also the first place recipient of Historica Canada’s 16-29 category short story contest in 2019. The current reigning Mr. Two Spirit International and 2nd place winner of the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word National Slam Poetry Competition 2019. Gabriel is an author, slam poet, artist and musician. They have a BSW from Carleton University, a diploma in herbology, and a diploma in addictions. They have also been a workshop educator for over ten years.

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