12 minutes | Jan 3, 2020

Goulet & Enfield – She Opened the Sky

Goulet & Enfield She Opened the Sky Welcome to the Corner Tapes, I’m Brian Rougeau. Today, I want to share a story that originates from the corner of Goulet and Enfield. My grandparents, we called them mémère and pépère, lived in an apartment block there for all the time that I have known them. As a kid, I visited them regularly because they took care of me after school while my parents worked. Pépère died when I was a little boy, but the story I want to share today originated sometime before mémère passed away, many years later. It is a story about how she revealed that we have indigenous roots in our family. This news affected me greatly because I was completely unaware of this fact as no one ever mentioned it. I thought maybe it’s time to share the story, so here it is. I chose to write it in rhyme—I hope you enjoy. She Opened the Sky Is a story enough To resolve my affinity? To seal my identity? If the Blood flows  Through my heart Where does my story start? My sister told me what mémère Had to say that day She sat by her side A deep look filled her eyes Then she opened the sky and said Your pépère had an Indian mother That’s all that she said Now, questions spill from my head I need to know more because I thought I knew who I was Her final words, she was Cree This was the birth of the mystery I sit idling in the park Rain oozing downward, sky dark Mom, Dad, can I call you right now? Please, tell me how I fall into despair, but not for long Afterall it’s been years since they’ve been gone Though they’ve been my trusted guide since birth Answers do not appear from beneath the earth But, an internal voice appears Recall the days under the sun Family times, where you had the most fun Only then will you truly know The kinship, the endless flow But how is it that nobody knew? Now is the time, put together two and two I turn on the lights, sky open  I drive away, confidence broken I attempt to lead from the inside Removing the masks, I no longer hide I remember the music, the dance, the food Summer parties, lifting the family’s mood Old time sounds filling the night-time air Family jumping and spinning without a care I dream of connections to distant memory Long before the arrival of misery Inside, a being resonates with the drum It is a sign, the quest has begun Feelings of doubt fuel the anxiety How can a story define my reality? Seasons pass, hard answers left unfound Still hoping that my luck will turn around I chase the wish to know my story Not knowing only feeds the worry I search for new leads, examine every clue Driven by a heart that yearns to be true My brother visits, slides the report across the table A historian claims it’s likely just a fable At the bottom it reads, No Metis ancestry But, this does not quell the curiosity There is a different question we need to pursue Yes, we are French, we are British, but are we Indigenous too? A bit of research justifies my position Métis status comes with a condition Indigenous blood is not enough They will say we don’t have the right stuff Our ancestors did not accept scrip That official government certificate The one meant to extinguish all future claim To any land in a family’s name What I say is purely speculation But, our elders may belong to a hidden population On the sidelines of the 19th century North West This revelation only deepens my quest This story is personal interpretation Any claim would be denied by the Nation Identity has become political The dynamics, psychosocial But, the man in the graveyard crystalised my inquisition What is in your heart? Not the definition  Is a story enough To resolve my affinity? To seal my identity? If the Blood flows  through my heart Where does my story start? She opened the sky and said ‘Your pépère had an Indian mother’  Days before, my concern started to simmer My chance at truth would take place at a dinner The person was a direct link to mémère and pépère And now it was my turn to share So, I jumped in and told the story My throat tightened, I began to worry I told them about memere’s confession Followed by a simple question Is this true? I received a quick reply A straight look into the eyes I don’t know much about that I don’t know much about that Coming from an honest place I don’t know much about that Maybe the question comes too late I don’t know much about that Still a mystery, to date I ask myself Why do you require a confirmation? Do mémère’s words force a separation? No need to deny, to deepen the scar  You only add to the man you already are But, I thought I knew who I was  I need to know more, because   French Canadian was all that I knew Can I now claim that I am indigenous too? Over time, the mystery began to make sense Indigenous people suffered tough discrimination Some chose to blend in with the population For those whose secret was revealed to be true Intolerance was twofold from opponents who knew The rule was, keep it hidden To speak of it, forbidden As the pain carried over from generation to generation  The disguises deepened with vague refutation Some would say lack of grit But if you could ask them now, they might say, legit Is a story enough To resolve my affinity? To seal my identity? If the Blood flows  Through my heart Where does my story start? She opened the sky and said Your pépère had an Indian mother We all want to save our kin from harm A deep instinct rings the alarm I understand the generations of protection But, maybe it’s time for a new direction Without healing, the suffering will thrive beyond our day Future sons and daughters will struggle to find their way Although the story remained adrift for generations The Love flows through my veins with reclamation So, I share this with you if it’s all the same This is my truth, and it shall remain Her story is enough To resolve my affinity To seal my identity The Blood flows  through my heart This is where my story starts This is a story about my great-grandmaman Everyone called her, Amanda Share Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on google Share on linkedin Social Media Facebook Instagram Twitter Subscribe to podcast Please join my newsletter for updates and extras. 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