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Thursday, July 01, 2021


by Donna Katzin

A family walks through a field where flags and solar lights now mark the site where more than 750 unmarked graves were discovered at the former Marieval Indian school in Saskatchewan on 26 June. Photograph: Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian, June 30, 2021.

Indigenous groups have called for Canada’s national celebration [on July 1] to be cancelled over the discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves, most of which are believed to belong to Indigenous children. —The Guardian, June 30, 2021.

They were taken for the sin of being born
on a continent ripe with riches
the  white  man  claimed
as his manifest destiny.
They were taken for the sin of living
on the land alive with seeds
their parents nurtured
with their own blood.
They were taken for the sin of belonging
to peoples who wrote their names
in rivers, rocks and plains,
their songs on the wind.
They were taken for the sin of listening,
dancing to their own rhythms,
praying to the Creator
in their own tongues.
They were taken for the sin of loving
to snuggle in their elders’ arms,
imbibe their stories
and their dreams.
They were taken to forget the ancestors,
learn settlers’ words and ways,
embrace new gods, surrender
to schools of conquest.
Mothers, fathers refuse to forget
as machines plumb sacred ground
where children lie in unmarked graves,
waiting to be found.

Donna Katzin is the founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa.  A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing.  Published in journals and sites including The New Verse News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself.