Rebecca Thomas

Not Perfect

I don’t shower everyday. I’m not perfect.
I sing off-key when I drive on the highway I’m not perfect,
I have a dedicated partner but still get crushes everyday.
But hey, I’m not perfect.

There are a lot of things I can forgive and understand as human error,
But not a single one of those comes in the form of inciting racialized terror.
And I hate to be the bearer of bad news,
But a lack of perfection is a poor excuse
To keep Cornwallis enshrined regardless of his abuse.
Please, cut him loose.
Do you get what I’m saying or is my argument obtuse?

How can granting us our humanity
Be less of a priority
Than making the donair the official meal of this city?
It’s a pity that late night drunk foods get to be classified as today’s most current issues.
Where are our statues?
May I suggest a few?
Anna Mae Aquash, Donald Marshall Junior, or Grand Chief Membertou.
See? They all meet the criteria of not being perfect.
They are a group of real apple tree serpents.
Anna Mae? A divorcee!
Membertou and Marshall?
A rebel Catholic and a criminal!
Maybe that last one ended in an acquittal
But it’s because the world thought an L’nu’s words were too brittle to be believed.
It’s not news to me.
We have already whitewashed our streets,
To rinse off our red stained hands and feet,
In that park, all paths lead
To his bronzed greed
I beg and plead.
Can’t you see what I see?!
That a man decreed
A proclamation on our scalps.
I’m taking you to task,
I’m asking for your help.
To heal generations of spiritual welts
Because we were seen as animals only valued for our pelts.

We are members of your community.
Show us your humility,
Take my extended branch in unity,
And stop honouring a man who prided himself on his limitless brutality,
Who counted Mi’kmaq fatalities,
Our skins were used as currency,
His legacy built on the belief that our vagrancy,
Justified replacing our only home, Mi’kma’ki,
With a British colony,
Hell-bent on extinguishing our existence,
But we are persistent!
Centuries later,
We are still mounting a resistance,
Because no amount of hubris can strip us of our resilience.
We are still here.
I can’t make that anymore clear.
Don’t fear a re-writing of the past but rather how it looks,
When this decision is recorded in the history books,
When you turned a blind eye and spied the easy way out,
When you flexed your privileged clout in a bout with a predetermined outcome.
Because there is no one in that room,
Who looks differently than you to challenge the status quo,
the same old same old.
Is this how Halifax chooses to be bold?

Did you know that the west looked to the east
On how to rid themselves of the Indigenous beast?
They looked to this coast to justify killing kids
They said that all lice grows from nits.
Even if only a fraction of this is true,
Is this the legacy you want immortalized in a statue?
Did you want to be the one to explain this to my nieces and nephews?

It’s time for your minds to be changed,
Pride to be checked.
It’s time that our voices are given a lot more respect.
I will not fault you for a change heart on the subject.
Together, we can find a compromise and work it.
Because at the end of the day,
I recognized how hard it is to be perfect.

rebeccca-thomas-photoRebecca Thomas is a  Mi’kmaw poet and activist. She is the daughter of a residential school survivor whose family is rooted in Lennox Island First Nation. She is Halifax current Poet Laureate and the first Indigenous person to hold this role. Most of her work focuses on Indigenous peoples and their relationship with Canada.