I Carry All Their Stories In Me


nichole forbes -i carry all their stories in me-3

My hands are his hands.
They are the same shape as his and move like so – just like his did
I marvel at the memory of this giant of a man,
of this larger-than-life presence,
of this proud and passionate man with these hands,
these soft and gentle and determined hands.
I carry him in my hands.

I feel her in my hair.
As I brush out my hair at night,
I hear her confide in my daughter.
I hear her whisper in the safety of the darkness.
The story she tells is one of fear and violence that fell on her as she slept.
Her hair was taken from her,
Hacked from her,
by rusty scissors in the dead of night.
“Filthy Indian”
The echo from trauma that occurred decades before her birth,
The scars hers still.
I carry her whisper in my hair.

I tense my jaw in memory of his fist.
His fist making contact with my son’s jaw.
In that split second of reactionary violence, I see a brief lifetime,
Of pain,
Of frustration,
Of disappointment,
Of heartbreak.
The mask of happiness and forgiveness slipped,
The mask he desperately wishes was real slipped and he was exposed.
I carry all that he hid in my jaw.

I rub my arms in phantom pain.
His skin is raw.
His sensitive, baby skin is red and angry and cracked and raw.
The skin he wears is the pain he bears
From a lifetime of contaminated water
Bathing in
Laundered in
Marinated in
Water we wouldn’t touch.
This is the water of his life.
Of his pain.
God, no, not of his death, too!
I carry his life in my skin.

I see the suspicion.
I see him see it, too.
He sees the racism
And so do I
In that one look he scans the generations and sees
All the oppression
All the ignorance
All the loss
He sees the cycle of abuse
And I see his determination
Not me, his eyes say, Not me
And he means it
I carry his determination in my eyes

I hear her laugh.
I hear her cackle rise above the din of conversation.
I see her
Head thrown back,
Hands clasped to her breast,
Tears streaming from her eyes.
I know her story; I’ve heard her pain.
Yet, she laughs.
And in that laughter is her hope for healing,
In that laughter is her healing.
I carry her hope in my ears.

I carry all their stories in me.
All these stories and a thousand more.
I feel them.
They occupy
My heart,
My brain,
My soul.
They are the reason
The heartbeat
Behind my journey

I feel the silenced voices cry out.
I feel their cries in my very bones.
My grandfather and his mother and her mother
I hear their cries
I feel their stories
Call to me from the generations
I hear their truth
Their pain
Their sorrow
I feel their hope, too
These are my people.

They are the why to my journey
My journey to Connection
To Reconciliation
To our Future
For them and for my children
For all our children.



“Achieving reconciliation is like climbing a mountain — we must proceed a step at a time. It will not always be easy. There will be storms, there will be obstacles, but we cannot allow ourselves to be daunted by the task because our goal is Just and it also necessary.” —Senator Murray Sinclair, Chair of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission


Editor’s Note: Nichole will be one of the storytellers at our SheLoves Reconciliation evening as part of the Atamiskakewak National Gathering in Moose Jaw, SK. Come, join us! If your heart beats for healing, hope and walking together into the future, register today.