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one morning I cried to nohkôm
what am I worth now without a man to love me
I sat waiting for an answer from a woman who went home 25 years before my cries
I heard nothing – I looked up
the sweet shrill whistle of a bird resting nearby
the wind running its fingers through leaves playing a low murmur
of melody

I noticed how the clouds that never stay were imperfectly shaped
against the blue of sky
I breathed and rested my chin on my hand
I saw the wildness of the grass – greens and yellows growing at their own speed
to reach lengths undefined by each other
I closed my eyes to stop the tears and heard a voice
            you are iskwêw of askiy
            prepared for spring rain when the earth shoots forth with life
and mother’s love starting fresh from the muds of melted ice
you are the heat of summer passion
waking with the sun to dance – to play
long days and short nights when pleasure brings the embrace
of light dreams to lay in the arms of soft land
while ancestors dance brighter than stars
you are ready to let go as you have seen trees free themselves
of the weight of autumn – shrinking back deep to roots to wait for warmth
some days you may be the biting wind of winter
or the cover of snow protecting
you are the single unique snowflake finding its place
to rest on the land
you are a daughter of ôkâwîmâw askiy
your worth cannot be measured by a man
you learn who you are with each day – each moon – each year that passes
you are all of the seasons in spirit
the transitions from warm to cold
from fresh starts to farewells
you know that each mood will pass like an imperfect cloud
that the sun moon and stars will wash color and darkness
over your life in phases
this is who you are
nohkôm carried me long before she went home
she left me this voice for mornings when tears smeared my sight line
leaving doubt and confusion
this morning I woke before light touched the land
I sent prayers on feathery wisps of smoke to nohkôm
thank you for who I am – a daughter of ôkâwîmâw askiy
as the sun crowned the east
I closed my eyes and found my voice

waniska pê wâpan oma




as a child
I walked askiy
bending grass beneath
my feet and I wondered
if the ones who were gone
had seen the beauty in this place

the red of mihkopêmak
contrasting the bright greens
of poplar standing nearby
the orange and violets
of sunsets spanning the width
of everywhere I could see

as a teenager
I walked askiy
crunching crisp kona
the turmoil that tore me
sunk away in deep, heavy drifts
fading as the wind brushed away my footprints
I was free
to find my tapwêwin

as a woman
I walk askiy
knowing the beauty
learning the balance
seeing roles accepted by tree, flower, rock
they offer an example of what it is to live
more than just askiy
I have found myself
in this place
my home

© Mika Lafond
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan



Photo Credit:

Wake up to a beautiful morning song with Elder Simon Kytwahat of Ministikwan First Nation

Did you know ..

Mika has shared key words in nêhiyawêwin, with these English translations:

waniskâ – wake up

nohkôm – my grandmother

iskwêw – woman

askiy – land

ôkâwîmâw askiy – mother earth

pê wâpan oma – this dawn arrives

mihkopêmak – red willow

kona – snow

tapwêwin – truth

Author: Mika Lafond

Mika Lafond is from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6 Territory.

She graduated with a B.Ed. from ITEP in 2006. She completed her MFA in Writing in 2014. Her thesis is a bilingual poetry manuscript in nehiyawewin (Cree) and English. She is currently working on a Creative Non-Fiction manuscript.

Mika currently resides in Saskatoon in Treaty 6 Territory with her children. She works at the Indian Teacher Education Program at the University of Saskatchewan as a mentor/instructor. She focuses her instruction on adapting curriculum to create a holistic educational experience in the classroom.

Read more here.