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Aurora Leigh of Fort St. James releases ‘IndigenEyes’ collection of poems on Métis identity

Leigh says Métis storytelling help can bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews

Fort St.James resident Auroara Leigh released her first written poetry compilation, called IndigenEyes: 1Plus1=Three, on Thursday, Feb. 24.

It’s the first written rendition of Leigh’s slam poetry that she performed at competitions around the Okanagan — touching on themes of healing, Métis identity and decolonization.

“I’m expanding on Indigenous reconciliation with my personal voice in poetry. I have a poem called ‘one plus one equals three.’ When you’re Métis you sort of become this other,” Leigh said.

“As a Métis you couldn’t be within the colonizers’ colony and you couldn’t be within the First Nations. So they became one of their own. We’re in that place in between — in these times when you’re expected to be on one side or on the other.”

The chapbook features seven poems that are meant to remind readers to think beyond the scope of our internal belief systems of the modern world and focus on connecting.

Leigh wrote the poems while she was in university reflecting on ways of knowing that are Indigenous, rather than mainstream, “consumeristic and materialistic.”

Leigh expresses how she feels about herself as part of nature, and how she feels about those forces that she says seek to “force us into the monopoly that drives the world.”

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She said Métis and First Nations voices have been ignored for too long and before there can be reconciliation there needs to be truth — which involves storytelling and having those stories listened to.

“You have a right to your story and to hold that high. I think that people are just getting to that place of truth but not reconciliation yet,” Leigh said.

“I think that Métis people have a powerful voice in that because we are a bridge between both worlds.”

Leigh’s late grandfather Verne Barge was born in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan. He spent his early years in Trail and Kaslo where he learned to play the fiddle and started his career with the B.C. Forest Service.

He was one of the driving forces in forming the Tri River Métis Association that serves the Métis communities in the Hazelton, Granisle, Smithers, Telkwa and Houston areas.

When Leigh got to know the history of her grandfather she found parallels in her own experience.

“When I discovered all of that it sparked a deep inquiry and I’m following in his footsteps to some degree. I found my voice through poetry, and then I started getting asked to go to places and perform,” Leigh said.

“I’m really happy to release my poetry and for that, for that voice to come through.”

Leigh’s collection of poems can be found at Petro Canada in Fort St. James as well as Massy books in Vancouver and on Amazon.


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