First Nations Poetry Magazine –

"O Canada" by Monica Wood


Title image shows a computer-generated image of a futuristic city in the distance, with a sports car racing toward it.

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Published January 1, 2023

O Canada

by Monica Wood
(Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada)

Oh Canada
Congratulations, you achieved, in me, a citizen who obeys your laws, pays your taxes, and participates appropriately in society.

Our home and Native Land
Oh wait a minute – speaking of Native – I found out I am.
Adopted in the 60s to a non-native family, I was raised as white, not knowing my ancestry.
Well, finding out where I came from has led me to research my ancestry – not just the things I learned in school or the government's rhetoric.
Now I see what you, Canada, has done.
You took our Native Land – Gave us reservations instead – many nations living in poor conditions – we still have 92 with boil water advisories.
Blankets of small pox – a gift of death to my people.
Took away our way of life – culture and language outlawed.
Raped our Native Land – mining and drilling, fracking and fishing, logging and polluting our air, earth, and water.
The animals – herds of millions of buffalo wiped out.
Beaver, muskrat, whales, and fish are scarce – fish farm diseases now endangering what left in the wild.

True patriot love in all of us command
I'm not feeling the love, Canada.
Residential schools, sixties scoop, ingrained and systemic racism in Health Care, Police, the Courts –
As a result there are more of my people in prison, more children in government care, more homeless, more alcohol, drugs, gangs, violence, suicide.

With glowing hearts, we see thee rise – The true north strong and free
Did you know that indigenous people could not vote until 1960?
The Indian Act said they were incapable of managing their own affairs or voting –
Unless they gave up their Indian Status
Owning property or obtaining a university degree also resulted in losing Indian Status.

From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
Even my people who fought for Canada in WW1 and WW2 had their voting rights taken away after the wars ended –
That's what happens when we stand on guard for thee.

God Keep our Land Glorious and Free
Yes God – we wouldn't want anyone coming into our land and making it less than glorious and taking away our freedom –
Hmm kinda sounds like what happened to us.
For thousands of years, my ancestors have lived on Turtle Island, looking after the land, taking only what they needed, making decisions based on community needs and values.

O Canada we stand on guard for thee...
As I was saying earlier – congratulations Canada, I am an assimilated citizen – but I know the truth.
I will stand up for my people; I will advocate for them and support them.
O Canada, these are the people I will stand on guard for.
I stand on guard for thee.

My name is Monica Wood, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba. My birth name is Kimberly Chartrand; I am Metis. I currently live in Coquitlam, British Columbia on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation. I thank the Kwikwetlem, who continue to live on these lands and care for them, along with the waters and all that is above and below.

This poem is included in Poetry World #5, published in the Wax Poetry and Art Library.

Previously published in First Nations Poetry Magazine:
Guess We'll Have Bannock Instead

by Lance Guilbault

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