• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 12
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At the Fork of the River

My mother can’t breathe. They say that her lungs are filling with water, that she is drowning from the inside. Every few weeks, they draw out the fluid with a long needle to give her more space for air. In her soft accent, she says that when she finally goes, she wants her body to be buried at a fork in the Credit River under a Canadian Maple and a German Oak.

The Credit River is Treaty 19 territory. Canada is carved up in this way, treaty by treaty. I ask my mother if the German Oak is considered an invasive species. If it’s OK to plant a German tree in Anishinaabe soil. I ask her where people like us should bury our dead.

My mother doesn’t have an answer for this. Instead, she asks me what we should call a country that is a patchwork of treaties, the stitches still raw. We wonder if there is a collective noun we could use. We decide it should be called, a mourning

 

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