READ INDIGENOUS: Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths

October 29, 2018

Jules Arita Koostachin's debut poetry collection  Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths (Kegedonce Press) explores the experiences of an Indigenous woman facing a difficult past in order to find her voice. The featured poem "Nanan" and others in the collection look back on pivotal moments that shape a woman's future and her understanding of herself. 


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Keep up all October long as we read, share, and discover Indigenous authors and works.





From  Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths by Jules Arita Koostachin (Kegedonce Press) 





small aged body

lying helpless

fetal position

barely holding her knees to her chest

elderly women sit around her

we wait

no one comes

empty wheel chairs

echoes of whispers

praying to the spirits

sharing with the ones they once knew


shadows walk the corridors

waiting for her last breath


lines deep

eyes fading

hanging on to the world she was once a part of

strong in her past

vulnerable now

waiting for care as a child would


remembering her hair

once long and black

brown sweet face

hands soft

securely holding me

still resting my head on her chest

please don’t leave me Nanan

who will I be without you?


will I still be me if you leave?

I want to follow her into the spirit world

longing for her to return

returning to us as she once was

through the next generation

spirits creep closer and closer

gently pulling her to the world of ghosts

world of memories

I beg for more time

How do I live without you?


the room has an odor of life drained

eyes are empty

each second that passes

death approaches inch by inch

sore tired bodies

lost minds

trapped in the past

reaching with broken hearts

for someone


piano playing

faintly heard

old people clapping

forgotten warriors

full lives

will this nightmare end?


once strong and free

locked down

fragile bodies

soft cries from the dark hallway




wishing for youthfulness

lost in regrets


I leave her there


she watches me leave

Nanan knows I love her

I ignore my thoughts

I make myself believe

I will see her again

it’s over

last day of her life as my Nanan


tears escape her sad eyes

my heart pains


please no

stay with me Nanan


life stops


creator punches a hole through me


pain like no other

I can’t breathe



bye my Nanan


no word for goodbye in our language

till we meet again

I love you






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The Author 


JAK author photo_credit Karolina Turek

Born in Moose Factory Ontario, Jules Arita Koostachin was raised by her Cree speaking grandparents in Moosonee, and also with her mother in Ottawa, a survivor of the Canadian Residential school system. Jules is a band member of Attawapiskat First Nation, Moshkekowok territory, and she currently resides in Vancouver with her partner and twin sons. She is a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice with the University of British Columbia – her research focus is Indigenous documentary. 

Jules carries extensive knowledge working in Indigenous community in several different capacities providing support to Indigenous women and children who face barriers; these community experiences continue to feed her advocacy and her arts practice.








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Remember: buy  Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths or any of our  READ INDIGENOUS books and get this stunning limited-run tote bag featuring colourful artwork from Indigenous visual artists Kaya Joan, Alan Syliboy, Dawn Oman, and Lauren Crazybull until November 15th (while supplies last). And don't forget to check out today's other READ INDIGENOUS feature, A Difficult Beauty by David Groulx (Wolsak and Wynn).





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