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A Space for Writers of the World

Lesley Belleau – Essay and Poetry

Ako: A Startled New World: Blockades, Idle No More, and Chief Theresa Spence.

Blockading the Ketegaunseebee-Gitgaan-ziibi Anishinaabe/Garden River First Nation highway in Northern Ontario on December 27, 2012 was stepping inside of a new space. Walking against the wind, the pressing of ice against our cheeks, being led by the Anishinaabe flags and drumsongs sustained us. The image of Chief Theresa Spence laying inside of her fast on Victoria Island, her soft body hungering against itself, drove us toward the divided highway where we were doing a 12-hour blockade on Highway 17 in order to support Chief Spence as well as resist the omnibus budget bill C-45 that hangs against the sky as dark as the black spaces inside of moonless coloured eyes . We walked together. Aambe. We held each other’s heartstrings marching a fierce path along the highway- coiled against daybreak and a startled new world.

Ako. Since the beginning of their arrival our silence permeated beneath ahki beneath the earthlayers beneath the white footprints beneath the bone-edges that lay under the ground, taciturn howls opened up by roots that wrapped around that quiescence, building centuries upon the ground until the words of one mighty woman Chief extracted them upwards, spiralled them back toward our consciousness. We inhaled her walk toward Victoria Island, toward her laying down of her lifescape inside of a white-wrapped teepee blanketed under winter’s indifferent promisings, sucking it down our throats tightly, until it glued against our heartwalls. Agami. It is cold. Agami. As she lay curled under layers of blankets that fold against her flesh like sediment and clay, dark hands carving our stories out in rock, a scratch, scratch, scraping of languages, her spirit intuits her pathway against the world as vast as scattered stars.

300 strong standing firm against the pavement edge. Drum-circle twelve hours long. Harsh scent of gas and sometimes swearing inside the air caught in the beat of the drum, eaten by our unflinching wills and determinism. Huddles of youth and children breaking apart the invisible lines of city and reserve, signs and protest banners icing at the corners until firepits are created and the women bring turkey and wild rice soup, our mouths scorching the air, puffs into the morning. And we step against oppression. And we line the roads with our soft bodies to resist the pain to resist the screaming histories to resist the breaking of treaties the snapping one by one over and over, the sounds like gunfire into flesh, the smell of hurt salting our ancestor’s rising voices. Ishpisin. It is heaped high now let us bring it down so we can see clearly past the hurt. She lays down with the pain, the hurt spread against the earth, a crying of painsongs from the mouths of the people. We speak, we deliver, we nibble on the pain and strength inside one another until we form a loud sound beside the round drum, our voices and languages braiding the whole sky inside of them. Pavement cold as underwater December dreamings, and we continue in solidarity; our shaking bodies warm with hope.

And we are all attaching one to another: beading against a rapid current, pressing pains and histories and stories one to another through Idle No More our hands reaching into each city, province, state and nation, the voices a humming a drumming a gentle weaving that is feeding our laying Chief, a rising drumming that will turn against a lying tide, and carry us forward, a strong nation where silence no longer exists to a place where a Great Chief stands and urges us forward, forever. Ikwe. Her great body emptied for us to live. We resisted that day and will continue. Miigwetch.

* * *

Dreamsong for Chief Spence

Agaawaa- But it is here

A full presence like the sound of creation

Agaawaa- And you must hear it

The pulsing at your throat

The walking of the nations toward you

Agaawaa- Listen our leader

The time is now azhigwa- we are walking now

And breathing deep breaths for you

The water you drink a lifepouring of collective energy

Our sounds are inside of your waking hours

We are the birds that keep hidden in the trees

We are the crackling against the night

We are the midnight tears that watch for your morning

Sounds-We are the marching

That is shaking the earth in two—

We are your dreamings walking and writing and hoping-

Miigwetch Theresa—

Akina gegoo


The language painted back onto our throats the

Babies walking forward without suffering little feet scattering

Leaves like long veins painted outward against a stark winter

Everything tasting freedom a cattail waking a rolling a naked rustling a

Burdock root inside a brown hand tasting as soft as


Under a wounded coloured sky

Akina gegoo

Like the outside of a moon edge

What does that feel like

To sit atop the span of the sky

To taste freedom as easily as wakening


There are new sounds earthing a sprouting a pushing upward


Scraping red ochre like an artist clears his palette

A strum of babies suckling pulling milkstreams the body offerings

Flesh on flesh walking flesh she is warming her blood is warming

Her flesh a heating she is speaking

The tea a swallowing moving

Journeying sistersdrummingyourbreathingisdrummingandwearewitness

Let the hands who hold your cup against your chin feel dawaa

Dawaa so much space

Carved space into the future like a desperate rubbing of ochre on rockface

Like a naming of history

Like biskaabiiyang

The crawling of undressing the unskinning one the hidden ones

Until we can scream our names out loud

Our dreaming as truth-

Baakishin as open as wide mouths screaming.

* * *

Stephen Harper: Giiwanimo-

Soil spreading like fire dirt trenches buried screamings gunshot mornings a twinge of history wound snakey on white throats swallowed the preys still breathing in dark stomachs exhaled in dissodance

Endazhi- there in that place

Of buried babies buried stories buried treaties under heaping browned patches

The air witnessed these things the animals still tell stories of these things

Sometimes a heart lies open on the soil lies against the sun baking bleeding little sounds drip out a screeching of one placed on high fire, the audience turned away, tired

And some men still walk

And some men tell other people’s stories

And some men steal histories stuff them into pockets like rocks to skip on a cold river

Pockets stuffed with lives writhing little jagged tongues lapping against cotton the stolen bodies heaving with exhaustion.

Some men steal truths chew on it gnaw bone wrenching worn out like a broken bookedge until history is jagged and cusped on table-edges, falling.


These men hide things


These men tell lies



Gaawiin geyaabi

No more.

* * *

Lesley B headshotLesley Belleau is an Anishnaabekwe writer from the Ojibwe nation of Garden River, located outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She is a Ph.D student in the Indigenous Studies Department at Trent University, and is focusing on studying Indigenous literature. Lesley enjoys writing fiction and poetry and is the author of The Colour of Dried Bones, a collection of short fiction published by Kegedonce Press, as well as other publications both nationally and internationally, such as Rampike Magazine and Yellow Medicine Review. Lesley is currently awaiting the release of her second novel, Sweat, a full-length fiction novel, due out in 2013 and published by Your Scrivenor Press. She is finishing a poetry manuscript, as well as some book reviews and academic essays. Currently, Lesley resides in Peterborough, Ontario, with her husband and four young children, ages 10, 7, 3 and 2.

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One comment on “Lesley Belleau – Essay and Poetry

  1. Paul Jeffrey Whalen
    December 24, 2013

    Although I am unable to understand all of the writing above, of what I do understand I have never heard a message aligned with such atrocious truths stemming from times many overlook, misunderstand, exhibit ignorance on ,and promote dissonance unto, while ultimately creating indifference toward. The words written in the poem above scream for historical justices that have long been delayed. Tese perpetrators of human atrocities, in the hopes that enough re-created history would bury them forever, have no idea the power of voices awakened.
    Truth spoken in word is more powerful than any treachery, and in light of eternity will out reign, outlast, and help exact the historical horrors brought upon the First Nations people of the world, while finding the semblance of their homeland beginning the re-creation process.

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