I Lost My Talk – FNMI PD

From a slideshow by Justin Holness of Tr1be Academy

Today I attended a PD day focused on FNMI learning. For those who don’t know, FNMI stands for First Nations Metis Inuit and is the acronym we are currently using to talk about peoples who are indigenous to Canada.

“In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada began a multi-year process to listen to Survivors, communities and others affected by the Residential School system. The resulting collection of statements, documents and other materials now forms the heart of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.” (from The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation) In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Report included 94 “calls to action” urging all levels of government to work together to change policies and programs in Canada in order to repair the damage done by residential schools and help our country move forward with reconciliation. One of the main calls to action is to change education to include FNMI history and culture in all parts of the curriculum. This means educating teachers as well as children.

Today, teachers heard from elders and youth and everyone in between. We listened to talks, singing, drumming. We ate food with a traditional flavour. We experienced cultural activities from sports to drumming to beading. We even sang. We tried to be open; we were open. Tomorrow, and for many tomorrows, we must continue to educate ourselves so that we can share these vibrant cultures with our students. To that end, I’m including two poems here. The first, I Lost My Talk, is well-known in Canada, but I’m not sure non-Canadian readers will have read it. The second is my own creation, a found poem from the words I heard in our PD sessions today. To all those who shared their knowledge with me today, thank you. Migwech.

I Lost My Talk

I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubenacadie school.

You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my word.

Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.

So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk
So I can teach you about me.


FNMI PD Found poem 4/27/2018

I Reflection
How did you get here?
A brief centering of self where
your knowledge comes from where
you look to know that
knowledge is real.
Connect the words
to your embedded

II Meaning Making
Life requires sacrifice.
Everyone has value
regardless of physical attributes.
The land tells us what is real.
Expand your ways of knowing, being and doing
Evolving while you learn.

III Acting
No idea is too
to make a difference;
No idea is too
not to get started.
Bring unity to the community.
Acknowledge, Learn, Celebrate

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Irene at Live Your Poem


17 thoughts on “I Lost My Talk – FNMI PD

  1. “I Lost My Talk” is a wonderful poem. I looked up Rita Joe. It was interesting and inspiring to read about her, the “Gentle Warrior.” Love that you found a poem in the words you heard today.


      1. Yes! And that poem also speaks to the children of immigrants. I know my mother “lost her talk” and then as an adult she taught herself again so she could write letters and talk with others when she visited family that stilled lived in Europe — with two languages.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have many thoughts and hope I can find words for all of them. The poem “I Loat My Talk” is beautiful and heartbreaking. We live next to the Ft. Hall Reseevation, and my school is a feeder school for the Shoshone Bannock tribe. There is a BIE school in Ft. Hall, and you can see the old boarding school ruins next to it. I don’t know how much you know about genevide if Native Americans, but English has been a tool of cultural genocide, too. Idaho does not have good policy for teaching Native history, but Montana has standards. Any time there is a NA session at NCTE it’s sparsely attended. Too few teachers care about NAs as marginalized groups. It’s a national disgrace.

    I love your found poem, too, especially the divisions highlighting what needs to be done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even the division titles came from the day. I was inspired by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche who uses poetry with her students to make sense of what they are learning. As for NA history,I have a LOT to say: I’m finding the call for reconciliation incredibly powerful here in Canada & I’m not surprised that it is being ignored where it is not being actively pushed. It’s *hard*. My understanding of racial hurts is mostly from South Carolina (where I grew up), so I thought I was largely free from some of the more insidious ideas here, but I was wrong. I was recently reading For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood, and he uses letters from the time to show that people who ran residential schools (in the States) were intentionally committing genocide. It was a real wake up call for me. No more pretending that people were trying to do what was right: some of this was never from a good place. Anyway, Canada has a long way to go, but we’re starting down the path. Maybe some of our learning will make its way south in the years to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When I don’t know the words, a found poem is the way they become mine. You’ve made these words your words in your poem of honor and respect.


    1. You and your students were my inspiration yesterday: you use poetry to deepen and understand learning. As the day began yesterday, I suddenly knew that writing a poem from this would help me distill what I learned – and it did. So, thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What a rich day of learning you had, and I’m so glad that you shared it with us. Rita Joe’s poem is powerful and moving, especially those final lines, “So gently I offer my hand and ask,
    Let me find my talk
    So I can teach you about me.” There is such dignity and grace in these lines–a marked contrast to the shameful history of treatment of indigenous people.
    I also appreciate how you created a found poem from the day as a way to synthesize and share your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Rita Joe’s poem, and I thought about it all day long. And I give credit for the idea of creating poetry to distill my learning to Margaret over at Reflections on the Teche: she does this with her students and I find it amazing every time.


  5. Oh this is so beautiful, and so important, to recognize what has been lost and to help it be recaptured… here in the States I am a supporter of Crazy Horse Foundation, which is committed to preserving language and traditions of First Nations people. I’m touched by your day of learning and so grateful for you sharing it with all of us. Happy day!

    Liked by 1 person

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