First Nations Poetry Magazine –

"Privilege and Shame" 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 September 1, 2022

Privilege and Shame

by Monica Wood
(Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada)

do you know who you are, from where you came
who were your ancestors, who gave you your name

you say it doesn't matter, that we are all the same
we are who we are, and no one's to blame

just forget about history, move on from the past
don't worry about your culture, it wasn't meant to last

we'll give you a place, you can call home
you can't drink the water, but you can have a phone

our women are missing, or they are found dead
the children were taken, while at home in their beds

our youth they sniff gas, or drink and take drugs
suicide is rampant, you call them thugs

our people were broken, as was the intention to do
and now you wonder why, we do what we do

pain and hunger, before we had more
then colonialists arrived, with ships on our shore

you took the land, our women, and our fur
our language and our culture, mother earth's resources taken from her

racism they say, is systemic to the core
the RCMP and police, the health care, and more

so it seems – we are not really all the same
you live with privilege, and we live in shame

My name is Monica Wood née Kimberly Chartrand. Although I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I was adopted to a German family in the 60s. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple years ago, the question of family medical history came up. After DNA test and some letters to the Manitoba government, I located my birth mother. Along with medical history, I discovered a family, rich in culture and ancestry. I am Indigenous – Michif (Métis). I have now studied my ancestry and history through this lens. This poem below came as a result of this experience. I am grateful to the creator for the cancer – it allowed me to find out so many important things.

This poem is included in Poetry World #4, published in the Wax Poetry and Art Library.

Previously published in First Nations Poetry Magazine:

by Kalifa Lovelace

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