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His Name was Chankoowashtay (good road)

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His little bones have been secretly buried for years, alongside 215 other children, each with a name, unacknowledged, each with a story, untold. Mother Earth has quietly held him close. His mother has wept for years without closure. It was a September evening and he was helping his father clean the season’s first catch of salmon. She was inside the cabin, nursing their newborn daughter, softly singing in their native tongue. Hearing commotion, she ran outside to see armed men in uniform pushing her husband aside. Her screams echoed her young son’s as they carried him off.

She says time has not healed, only festered. Today, a gruesome discovery on the grounds of an old residential school is not the beginning. It is not the end. “Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.” Her heart aches not for apologys, but for honour, for peace.


For Merril’s prosery prompt, dVerse Poets Pub. The line she has chosen for us to include is quoted above, from Joy Harjo’s “A Map to the Next World”. It was a difficult task to stay within the 144 word maximum word count. This is a time of shock and shame in our country as a mass grave of 215 indigenous children was recently identified on the property of a Catholic run residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Many survivors of these schools in both Canada and the U.S. have been forever scarred from abuse and assimilation, with obvious effects flowing into generations to come.


18 responses »

  1. It is a horrible, tragic story, and there have been finds like this in the U.S., too. Thank you for sharing for those who might not know about, and for honoring the grief the survivors and their families feel.

    The Netflix Anne of Green Gables series–which expands the book(s)–has a storyline about indigenous children being dragged off to Catholic schools.

  2. Saying his name Chankoowashtay

  3. I watched part of a documentary – grown now men and women who endured the horrid torture in the name of Christianity.

  4. Beverly Crawford

    Such atrocities boggle the mind. It makes one want to believe in karma, and believe that those perpetrators of the atrocities will pay for their actions in their next lifetime.

  5. Such chronicles need be told and retold, lest we forget. Perhaps (though we’ve made some – very meager – progress) one day there will be no more tales to tell.

  6. this has happened in all our countries, killing off the the First Nation people but still they have no respect, no voice … and we should all hang our heads in shame!

    Thanks for bringing this tragedy to the d’Verse forum …

  7. Patriarchy, exploitation, and genocide are a pall cast across the land. I don’t ever see the parents and other loved ones of the bones of the murdered ever finding peace. Can, and will, humans ever move beyond their evil practices?

  8. We need to hear all the stories. Such a crime.

  9. Mish, this is simply devastating. Thank you for shedding light on this story.


  10. Oh Mish, this is so painful to read. I read the story in the paper yesterday. But its important to speak up about such atrocities because if we stay silent they can happen again.

  11. A profound post: in tenor, content, and truth revealed. I also read with horror this news. A beautiful post, Mish. We are reminded that our words can reach out….some who have not read this news will now see. How can humans be so inhumane?

  12. We have much blood on our hands. (K)

  13. Your prose piece overwhelms … thank you for sharing, difficult as it was to read.

  14. This is incredibly potent. Such atrocities should be looked into- and the ones responsible for loss of innocent lives be punished. 😦

  15. Wow! This was so well written and gives so much depth to the quote. Thanks for sharing the story! 💕

  16. This is a story that the world needs to hear… so many lives destroyed because we thought we had to mold every child in the same mold as our own.

  17. This is a well spoken, tragic tale experienced by too many. One would be too many, but there is no excuse for the thousands, here and in Canada.

  18. Thank you for writing this piece to honor all those who were abused and killed. I can’t imagine the pain of losing your child this way. It is heart-shattering to think about.


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