Métis artist Jaime Black's REDdress Project at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Photo via Adsum for Women & Children/Twitter.

Reserved for the Beast

Best of Regina winner of the Writing in the Margins contest

Close your eyes
and imagine Beauty,
imagine nature’s abundance respected and clean.
Everyone has full and happy lives to lead
and life is working perfectly.
Imagine being free.

Imagine an abusive relationship,
which is actually what it was;  
that’s not a metaphor or simile.
That’s everything beautiful suddenly turning ugly.
That’s being locked in your own home,
destroying you mentally.
And everyone’s watching you
acting like it’s still working perfectly.

imagine a Beast.
But not the kind of Beast
that falls in love with Beauty,
but the kind that is killing children
one by one, secretly,
and is only noticed when it kills dozens weekly.
Still it’s brushed under the rug because their
futures were bleak and the ones who were killed were
“just too weak.”

They say a “person’s a person no matter how small,”
but the way I see it
they don’t seem to matter at all.
Cause in the belly of the Beast
there is at least 60 per cent more illicit drug use,
and heavy drinking goes up 35 per cent –
that’s only in the underage youth.

But hey, I guess they have a way to escape.
Snort this, inhale this, inject that,
and do it 12 times a day.
If they run out of that, there’s a can of paint thinner in the back.

Good thing this Beast isn’t in the city because that whole place has gone to crap.
So many of the women have either been
raped or kidnapped,
And their children live by the quote “puff puff pass”
then pass when given the chance to sit on
Santa Claus’ lap.

They’re fine though,
so we’ll take away their money and supplies, 
ignore their cries and avert our eyes from
however many more people die.

The Beast is code for reserves FYI.
And it proves my point if it took me telling you to realize, 
that there’s a real problem right in our face, 
you just need to open your eyes. 

Cause none of this would be happening 
if you could see what I’m seeing, 
if you could feel what I’m feeling.
if your stomach twisted in knots like theirs do 
when they wash a handful of pills down with bleach.

So imagine this Beast.
imagine if he strolled into your city.
imagine if he killed your children,
raped and murdered the women,
pushed everyone into alcohol and drug addiction
and in over 50 per cent of homes there are people being beaten.
Would you still think these people aren’t being mistreated?

No matter what we do there are always new stories, and this time it was Colten.
That’s why every time we see a police officer we’re always bolting.
I’m not saying there wasn’t crime on both sides
but we have a right to be revolting.
If Canada wants to live up to its lie of a reputation 
then there at least needs to be justice involvement.

The way of Indigenous life 
has become learning to live with injustice.

Waiting for your mother or sister to come home and worrying,
being blasted with water cannons for fighting for our land –
this is not what Indigenous life is supposed to be about.
This is not the way I want to have to live.
Having to be hesitant to live my life 
cuz one wrong move and it actually is my life...

A 95th call to action
should be holding accountable the people who kill our people. 
These everyday laws are just not working for us.

Drugs, rape, kidnapping, murder, and 11 times more self-caused deceased.
As a country, how do you suppose we put this problem to peace?

Now…open your eyes.


This poem was the best entry from Regina in our ninth annual Writing in the Margins contest. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) for this year’s contest. Briarpatch will be accepting entries for the tenth Writing in the Margins contest in September 2020.

Austin (The Noble Savage) Ahenakew has a unique style that weaves rhythm into storytelling, bringing an urgent truth from the perspective of an Indigenous youth. Austin brings an unapologetic approach to Indigenous struggles, abuse, and PTSD, and shines light on things often unseen. (Headshot by Riley Eashappie)

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