Episode: 05

She Opened the Sky


Welcome to the Corner Tapes, I’m Brian Rougeau. Today, I want to share a story that originates from the corner of Goulet and Enfield. My grandparents, we called them mémère and pépère, lived in an apartment block there for all the time that I have known them. As a kid, I visited them regularly because they took care of me after school while my parents worked. Pépère died when I was a little boy, but the story I want to share today originated sometime before mémère passed away, many years later. It is a story about how she revealed that we have indigenous roots in our family. This news affected me greatly because I was completely unaware of this fact as no one ever mentioned it. I thought maybe it’s time to share the story, so here it is. I chose to write it in rhyme—I hope you enjoy.


Is a story enough

To resolve my affinity?

To seal my identity?

If the Blood flows 

Through my heart

Where does my story start?


My sister told me what mémère

Had to say that day

She sat by her side

A deep look filled her eyes

Then she opened the sky and said

Your pépère had an Indian mother


That’s all that she said

Now, questions spill from my head

I need to know more because

I thought I knew who I was

Her final words, she was Cree

This was the birth of the mystery


I sit idling in the park

Rain oozing downward, sky dark

Mom, Dad, can I call you right now?

Please, tell me how

I fall into despair, but not for long

Afterall it’s been years since they’ve been gone


Though they’ve been my trusted guide since birth

Answers do not appear from beneath the earth

But, an internal voice appears

Recall the days under the sun

Family times, where you had the most fun

Only then will you truly know

The kinship, the endless flow


But how is it that nobody knew?


Now is the time, put together two and two


I turn on the lights, sky open 

I drive away, confidence broken


I attempt to lead from the inside

Removing the masks, I no longer hide

I remember the music, the dance, the food

Summer parties, lifting the family’s mood

Old time sounds filling the night-time air

Family jumping and spinning without a care


I dream of connections to distant memory

Long before the arrival of misery

Inside, a being resonates with the drum

It is a sign, the quest has begun

Feelings of doubt fuel the anxiety

How can a story define my reality?


Seasons pass, hard answers left unfound

Still hoping that my luck will turn around

I chase the wish to know my story

Not knowing only feeds the worry

I search for new leads, examine every clue

Driven by a heart that yearns to be true


My brother visits, slides the report across the table

A historian claims it’s likely just a fable

At the bottom it reads, No Metis ancestry

But, this does not quell the curiosity

There is a different question we need to pursue

Yes, we are French, we are British, but are we Indigenous too?


A bit of research justifies my position

Métis status comes with a condition

Indigenous blood is not enough

They will say we don’t have the right stuff

Our ancestors did not accept scrip

That official government certificate


The one meant to extinguish all future claim

To any land in a family’s name

What I say is purely speculation

But, our elders may belong to a hidden population

On the sidelines of the 19th century North West

This revelation only deepens my quest


This story is personal interpretation

Any claim would be denied by the Nation

Identity has become political

The dynamics, psychosocial

But, the man in the graveyard crystalised my inquisition

What is in your heart? Not the definition 


Is a story enough

To resolve my affinity?

To seal my identity?

If the Blood flows 

through my heart

Where does my story start?


She opened the sky and said

Your pépère had an Indian mother


Days before, my concern started to simmer

My chance at truth would take place at a dinner

The person was a direct link to mémère and pépère

And now it was my turn to share

So, I jumped in and told the story

My throat tightened, I began to worry


I told them about memere’s confession

Followed by a simple question

Is this true?

I received a quick reply

A straight look into the eyes

I don’t know much about that


I don’t know much about that

Coming from an honest place

I don’t know much about that

Maybe the question comes too late

I don’t know much about that

Still a mystery, to date


I ask myself

Why do you require a confirmation?

Do mémère’s words force a separation?

No need to deny, to deepen the scar 

You only add to the man you already are


But, I thought I knew who I was 

I need to know more, because  

French Canadian was all that I knew

Can I now claim that I am indigenous too?


Over time, the mystery began to make sense


Indigenous people suffered tough discrimination

Some chose to blend in with the population

For those whose secret was revealed to be true

Intolerance was twofold from opponents who knew


The rule was, keep it hidden

To speak of it, forbidden

As the pain carried over from generation to generation 

The disguises deepened with vague refutation


Some would say lack of grit

But if you could ask them now, they might say, legit


Is a story enough

To resolve my affinity?

To seal my identity?

If the Blood flows 

Through my heart

Where does my story start?


She opened the sky and said

Your pépère had an Indian mother


We all want to save our kin from harm

A deep instinct rings the alarm

I understand the generations of protection

But, maybe it’s time for a new direction

Without healing, the suffering will thrive beyond our day

Future sons and daughters will struggle to find their way


Although the story remained adrift for generations

The Love flows through my veins with reclamation

So, I share this with you if it’s all the same

This is my truth, and it shall remain


Her story is enough

To resolve my affinity

To seal my identity

The Blood flows 

Through my heart

This is where my story starts


This is a story about my great-grandmaman

Everyone called her, Amanda

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