if we are canadian

if we are canadian
why do i see predominately white
in the red
white
and red


the flag whose leaf
i am equally loyal


if we are canadian
why is my language
so importantly first
<english

not french
cantonese
swahili

or haida


the tongue whose wit
is equally apt


if we are canadian
why is my fight
a war i never started

	      november 11

the country whose freedom
is equally mine



if we are canadian
why is my opinion on wine
books
blues
folk
denied


the palate whose taste
is equally refined


if we are canadian
why do we think that first nations
(first canadians)
are privileged to have health care
("status")

when the last residential school closed
in 1996
the late 1900s

the century whose history
is equally present,


if we are canadian?

the bud of the bud

why
do
i never

see my face on television

just a blurred obscure smudge
brushed across the flickering screen
like it was a saturated towel
wiped through blood
mud

just a streakof
		humanity...

a colour that you can change the light on
and make into a different shade,

a piece of puddy
made of clay




i only see me as they see me pouring tea bowing out of respect for the great power that is whiteness that holy quality the colour of death. i am always laughing politely at their impoliteness... because it is always so funny when everyone around you is smiling, if even inside there is a disagreement a knowing a reality apart from the appearance a disobedient adherence a glowing / a shining undermining

the truth: that in the bud of the bud & the root of the root on the tree of life i'm low hanging fruit.

As people of colour, it is essential that we remember we are not the boxes that society contains us in. We are more than our actualizations, we are also our potential. Some of us are never told that we can do great things – so we must do them. We need to believe more than we’re told. We need to use our imaginations to guide us into a future of equality, and to use our minds and wills to grow it in the present, from a seed to a tree to a forest.

Crab Party

A genuine appreciation of simple pleasures entails a life of happiness. These are the words that I live by, or try to anyway.

Today I was finally able to “crab” for the first time this summer at beautiful Belcarra Park. In typical Vancouver fashion, the sky filled with thick, puffy rainclouds and poured buckets. Then as soon as it came, the weather had opened up to pure blue skies and golden sunshine. My face is still a little tender because of the UV rays, dancing off the sparkling calm water.

I wish I had the pictures to show you how beautiful it really was but truth be told, I was having too much fun to think of unpacking my camera. Some moments are timeless because they are captured in film, and others are simply so, in body and spirit.

This day was unlike other days because of several firsts. We caught a flounder (a halibut?) with our crab trap; we saw a sea gull snatch and swallow a dogfish the size of a pickle; and we even taught two classes of Grade 1s how to identify crabs by sex. The latter was greatly appreciated and rewarding.

Many families were out and about on this Thursday afternoon and we even made friends with a couple and their toddler daughter. I’ve got to say that I have new ideas for a future honeymoon if I am so lucky…shooting a fresh duck fetched by my scantily clad partner in middle of nowhere-New-Zealand only to have a bus full of tourists unload and take pictures surely makes for quite the story.

After several hours on the docks and the new and might-as-well-be-old family friends long gone into the night we headed home to feast on our catch of the day: three red rocks rounded out by bargain priced dungeness crabs. Dinner isn’t always what you set out to get, sometimes what’s available is best.

Two tired buddies and a camera (and a beer!) later, we documented how a good day can start with a reluctant jump out of bed and end with a grateful lesson in cooking from the grandparents.

Enjoy the photos. :)

chinatown (like it was yesterday)

I remember Old
		China

Town, like it was yesterday

elders walking the streets

and sleeping on stones

houses built on our bones

Found in the park cans collected and exchanged for yarn to spin into mittens and sweaters that always needed adjusting for me.. and the other babies because we kept growing she says nothing but through that blue, milky eye "I knew better" i see that our world equips us with daggers and guns and spears pointed at ourselves And the greatest trick is to mistake myself as the enemy, Not fights with mirrors or a Disney reflection, no these are words of my own, self-inflicted wounds, injuries we endure and feel but cannot see or hear
they build houses over our bones while we sleep on stones like it was yesterday

The colonization of Canada affected many people: First Nations who lost (and are continually losing) their land and homes and cultures and language; Black slaves who are forever tracing their steps back to their ancestry and never told of their own contributions to the colony; Chinese people who were separated from family, and some who were never reunited; Ukrainian, Croatian and Irish people who were never considered “white” until recently. The images in this poem are what I imagine when I learn about the history of Vancouver and colonization. Just as early white settlers stole from Aboriginal people, the state’s colonization of people of colour continues to dominate us through the gentrification and “development” of lands we live – whether it’s the borrowed-but-never-returned sacred land or a viaduct built over the only Black village or expensive buildings pushing out poor Chinese elders. The establishment that is called Canada is largely an occupation of unceded First Nations land. Much of their history and ancestry is left buried beneath the foundations of homes, village halls, museums, stores, restaurants, businesses and properties. So, too with “immigrant” folk. And the great tragedy is we are starting to think of this kind of racism as a relic of yesterday.

my font (lobster, abelone & rice)

my font is "asian"

it is the crooked letters
that shape my words,
porcelain tea-stained
because i am a vessel
for the flow

my language consists
of steamed bamboo huts
salted pork
and egg pastry,
i'll eat vegetables
tomorrow

i am a map of cemeteries
at eternal rest
facing the sea,
a calendar of the moon
always rising
and falling like a lotus
in the wind

duck yolk cake festival

my burps are polite thunder, my
aging joints fire crackers
good luck blasts
red money set afire
rising
into the realm of gods & godesses
three bows, i remember
three bows

my name is
'good boy'
'smart boy'
'pretty boy'

i smell of gardens carefully tended
the greenest thumb that yields no fruit
but becomes emperor

my ears
are a song
that rings of opera pitches touching
the heavens

&
a family dinner on day seven,

lobster
abelone and
	   rice.

paper boat

i

am

already

starting
		)beginning

to forget..



those houses built and raised
by families
children
mothers
below age

growing side by side in rows
in villages
in a billion person economy
a pocket
of home



here
in the new land
we are the friendly neighbours
who-moved-away-neighbours
and 'never returned'
neighbours

the best friend whom you shared
your first kiss
living always
in the past-

a memory
a treasury...


they tried
to remove you,
erase you,
tell you that you don't belong
put you in another town
another
	pocket,

put an ocean between you
and called it separation
'immigration'
	'integration'

it was
humiliation>



but in my heart of hearts
i know
that we are connected by a bridge

a melted ice
land


under sea,

and all i need
is a paper boat.

I wrote this poem today called “paper boat” but in private, I think is more fittingly called “our story.” In it, I’ve tried to tell the story of my family from the reaches of my own perspective which are limited to my knowledge and experiences and position in the family tree. I draw upon childhood images of the “first generation” as it may have been in Seck-Hee as well as how it was for the “first and a half generation” and “second generation” growing up in Canada:

Making paper boats with Grandma.

free

if i drop


then it is because i fell from the heights of my mind, freely floated to the bottom of the bottom, the bottom of my heart.


and hear i would ly grand at the bounty of the land grasping at what fist who would hold me like this..


or maybe i've stooped (drooped) to the floor of the sea, looking up at the world who strangely looks down at me..


i am the one in the water but they are behind glass.