UNEARTHING SECRETS, GATHERING TRUTHS
by Jules Arita Koostachin
To unearth our secrets means we must face our past, and in doing so,
we will find our voice.
Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths delves into the life and the healing of an lnnininew woman from the ancestral lands of the Moshkekowok, now called Northern Ontario. It is through the process of writing broken poetry; visual poetry rooted in the haunting memories of her childhood, that she provides the reader a glimpse into the mind of child survivor who was saved by her ancestors. This thought-provoking poetry sheds light on a personal account of how she comes to terms with intergenerational trauma inflicted by the residential school system. Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths explores the heartfelt and fragmented experiences through the eyes of an Indigenous woman. Through the honesty of her words, she embraces the spirit world, the resilience of her foremothers, the integral healing powers of disassociation as a survival mechanism, and the richness of her mitewin – dreams, which reconnect her to herself. Through her poetry, she has found the courage to face her difficult past, and now as a mother, she is gathering the truths of her family to help in the healing process.
Jules Koostachin, owner of VisJuelles Productions Inc., is Cree from Attawapiskat and a PhD candidate with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. She carries extensive experience working in Indigenous community in varying capacities such as counseling, consulting, teaching and management. Jules, also known as a storyteller and digital media maker, works to honour cultural protocols and build relationships within Indigenous community through her media arts practice. Her artistic endeavours are informed by her experience living with her Cree grandparents in northern Ontario. With an energetic and fun onstage presence, Jules presents poetry readings, storytelling, and educational presentations which use her media work to educate on Indigenous realities. Jules lives in Vancouver. Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths is her debut book of poetry, and it was a twenty year journey.
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Jules Koostachin's Unearthing Secrets, Gathering Truths is full of rich poem-stories that feel both ancient and modern at the same time. Urgent, raw and fast-paced, this is a book you'll want to drink up in one sitting.
--Alicia Elliott, 2018 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer.
I met Jules Koostachin when she was a very young mother. I suspected that she was on a journey from earth to some kind of star nation home, and that she was aware that she would have to plough through the earth stories of her life to get there. Imbued in these stories were terrible secrets, filled with awesome and monstrous stories which only the language of the stars could do justice to. This poetry is about that journey. I am inspired by the insistent and patient love that it took to craft this work. I love her love of her mother and because of the largesse of Jules's very soul I can love all her mother’s frailties, her silences and her absences. Jules's love of her mother indicates that she does not differentiate between her earth mother or her human one. As children, we are here to love our mothers – both of them, earth and human. I love the very Moshkekowok sensibility embedded in these words: star tracks from earth to home, from secrets to the gathering of family and the Cree Nation.
-- Lee Maracle, author of My Conversations With Canadians.
these poems take back what was stolen by the colonizer: the people’s life and voice, freedom and truth. here is the work of a shapeshifter, transforming the world word by word, teaching us the power of love. not hiding from the brutality of violence against Indigenous women and children, this poet finds strength and resilience in reclaiming language, home and roots. such courage is a gift to our spirits, our ancestors and the ones yet to come.
-- Rita Wong, author of Undercurrent.