Home Is.

Zofia Rose Musiej

I was ten when I first felt brave enough to say,

"sometimes, I just feel like I want to go home . . .

but I don't know where home is"

this met with silence from
my foster 'Papa' du jour

sixteen years pass before I dare
to define home as a place
where families share
what their own
families give

halibut for free

a trade of moose meat
for sturgeon

her bus pass for days
foregoing going out

too many aunties to keep track of
or know about
cousins with names I covet
might never meet
though want to because their stories
are front doors
and their children are big bay windows
like the view from Grandma's hospital room
on floor eleven where Great Aunty expired in another bed
viewing Mt. St. Helens

home is also stepping in, drawing lines so others can see
your comfort zone no matter how long
it takes repeating until Mom stops making jokes
about needing more grandchildren, instead
doting on her 'grandcat'

it is head banging and loud singing with your sister
because you forgot you ever thought she didn't like you
and taking pleasure in refraining
from complimenting your brother's driving
though you are impressed, his ego needs no inflating
instead, praise his work ethic without saying 'good job'
instead, ask questions like large oak tables
who are you?
what is important to you?

home is arriving to turkey dinner
for holidays no one present celebrates, and
the themes are
elders and children first, and
fend for yourself

Author's statement:

As an Indigenous former youth in care who spent all but one year under ministry guardianship in Canada, I have followed the changing policies regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement in America under the Trump administration with a growing horror and despair. The separation of children from their asylum-seeking parents crossing the border, as an act of "abiding by the law," bears a striking resemblance to the systematic removal of Indigenous children from their families and home territory and subsequent relocation to the care of the residential schools or adoptive and foster families. When a child is separated from their parent(s) and sibling(s), a trauma is occurring.

When I was eight years old, I barricaded my younger brother and myself in the upstairs washroom while at the bottom of the stairs, our three eldest siblings screamed at the social worker who had come to remove me from our foster home. I know how these migrant children feel. I was one of them, in my own country. As if losing their status as beloved child and gaining the status of a ‘processed detainee’ isn’t enough, the nation assuming their care has a history of white-washing (in more ways then one) circumstance; but make no mistake, the treatment of migrant children in America today is debasing basic human morality. I offer this poem as a reflection of what it means to me, to have had my sense of ‘home’ be stripped away by policy. If you are not outraged, you should be.

—Zofia Rose Musiej

Learn more about Turtle Island Responds

Zofia Rose Musiej is a Carrier First Nation, mixed-blood singer/songwriter, aspiring poet and occasional actress, residing in Vancouver (on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples). She made her acting debut on the Granville Island Fringe Festival Stage in 2016, starring in "Saving Mother," a play by Crystal Smith that highlighted parallels in the treatment of Indigenous women and Mother Earth. Zofia Rose enjoyed the honour of performing her first reading of poetry and an original song at the event Indigenous Brilliance, held on May 25, 2018. Zofia Rose continues the practice of writing and hopes to use her words to inspire art in others, as she has been inspired herself.

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