Content warning: mentions of racism and colonial violence
I speak to you from generations much after yours, and
I have come to tell you that I finally understand.
I had spent most of my life ashamed. The mirror signified repulsion, and harboured self-loathing. My spirit had been lied to for so many years, and I truly believed it.
All those years lost to time, inherits this sense of mourning... I feel as though I have lost a child.
During my childhood, I had not seen my pain as the result of racism. I refused for it to be my reality. In my injured mind, I thought if I tried hard enough, I would one day be white.
I had not seen myself for who I am until I was 16.
It took me a very long time to welcome you fully into my life.
To distinguish colonial violence from the truth. I had to think about what life really meant for you, and how crucial it is that our family
is still alive. I feel like a walking piece of history.
Never again will I keep my skin away from the sun. Never again will I let arrogance make me avoid saying my full name aloud.
Never again will I let anyone hurt you.
My days of wishing to be someone else have long left me,
Because I have the honour of calling you my ancestor.
You are there when I look in the mirror, and you are there when I look at my skin.
You have been here the entire time!
You are a hero, Pitikwahanapiwiyin, and I will always love you.
You saved me, Thank you.
Lilac Poundmaker (Pitikwahanapiwiyin) discusses internalized racism, and how growing up with a lack of understanding her Plains Cree heritage caused an unsettling disconnect with her own individuality. The poem is addressed to Chief Poundmaker, whom Lilac and her family got their last name from. This name is one of the first characteristics about her that white people often ridicule. Over the years, Lilac had made the connection between her last name being translated from Plains Cree to English, as one of the many colonial violences forced upon her culture.
The portraits are made to show self reflection and the physical similarities between Lilac and her grandfather, such as their noses. The blue and greys are representative of the deep spiritual connection that Lilac has with her ancestry, as she has met Poundmaker's spirit through sweat lodges and dreams.