Hello relative, a series

Lee Si’Yam Maracle and her daughters, Columpa Bobb and Tania Carter, write poetry together. Their collaborative poetry collection, Hope Matters (Book*hug Press 2019) discusses their family journey and the journey of Indigenous people from colonial beginnings to reconciliation. With “Hello Relative” VIDA invited them to continue their shared poetic conversation.

Hello relative

Lee Si’Yam Maracle

I am watching you through cracks in our family line
The view is narrow
Sparse and distorted
But I still love looking
Searching for our
Common bloodline

Hello relative

Columpa Bobb

Cuzzin, you don’t know me
We just met once
Over at the Longhouse
When we were kids
But I know your Grandma
From upriver way
Big heart, pudgy fingers—strong and short
Good for berry picking and digging into her change purse tshhh-sickanyways
init Cuz.
It’s true tho
I used to eat berry pie at her house
That real clean cabin down the U turn before the turn off to the dump
We’d sit on the porch after berry pie and look at the coins in her purse
She’d always give me the small shiny silver ones
Every time
Cuzzin can you spare a dime?

Hello relative

Tania Carter

I. Family is like Coffee Cream

I tried to restore the kinder coffee cream on the table
Let it sit there, looking white and beautiful
But I bit into it and it still felt the same
Sticky, clammy and then bitter
After that first sweet taste

My family is like this cream
From childhood
The bitter sat on my tongue
For a long time
Molded to my palate

in my teenage years
I forgot how to clean
Out the taste
And once I grew up
I thought it would go away

Got to be an adult
And mostly was a mother to another
Human being
My beautiful daughter
Of course it had nothing to do with me

My family decided before I was born
That activism and mayhem be my home
Interspersed with a gratitude of art

Inside my art and outside in the park
was where I was most of the time
And more of the time as I got older
Like prison
The bars got tighter
The guards got a little more frigid

This was my dad’s house
Discipline yarded up my skirt and
Tried to put steel pants over my legs
Cold and icymanly
An army sergeant with no war to win

Kids never won, in those days…
Never win in these days either

I was a girl, stayed a girl
Then one day was a woman
Am a woman
A grown up girl

Funny how life works
You try to win as a kid
Try to win as a grown up
And still try as a writer
It’s all about competing
And trying not to remember
Those days…

One day I will retire and I will be
Competing with myself
Running farther than yesterday
Drawing better than the last picture
Being the judge feels a lot better
Than waiting to be judged
You never know what they think
Or what they will do

II. Kids’ Rights

Kids never won,
in those days…
They never win now either
Youth are youth
Young are young
No rights are no rights
Even now the law burns
More on our youth than on men

I only wish my daughter
See that she wins every day
That she is alive without competing
Without competing with the things
that mean nothing

I wish
That she sees the sky
Even though men cover it with
Black jet fuel
Gray pollution
Homes of black mold

That she
breath in the clean air only
Travel with west wind
Sing the bird’s song
Wake in the morning light
Sleep to grandmother moon

I only wish she had a right to be
herself, always

Lee Si'Yam Maracle headshot


Lee Si’Yam Maracle is a member of Stó:lo nation whose numerous critically acclaimed and award-winning works include Talking to the Diaspora, Celia’s Song, and My Conversations with Canadians. An Officer of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Maracle is instructor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto and a finalist for the 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. @maraclelee

Headshot_Columpa Bobb


Columpa Bobb is an award-winning theatre performer, producer, director, and playwright, and the great-granddaughter of Chief Dan George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation. For more than a decade she ran Canada’s largest and most extensive empowerment through the arts training program for Indigenous youth in Winnipeg. Together with her mother Lee Maracle and sister Tania Carter, Bobb is co-author of Hope Matters.

Headshot_Tania Carter


Tania Carter is an artist, mother, and student, whose education includes potlatch as well as a BA in World Literature and an Masters Degree in Theatre. With a specialization in playwriting, her theatre thesis was based on lived experience and her relatives. Tania recently co-authored Hope Matters with her mother Lee Maracle and her sister Columpa Bobb.