Written stories and blogs

Comic Books

Explore ecohappiness through Sky’s adventures, produced by the Ecohappiness Project.

Join Annie Sunbeam on her underwater adventures. Produced by Comics United Nations.

Join Anna as she discovers her roots through  her forest adventures. Produced by Comics United Nations.


The morning my sisters phoned me
told me she’d gone, I went
up and taught my class
—last of the week
    she’d have wanted me to—
As I went to lock my bike
I heard a warbler and
there it was, yellow
on its branch as nothing else
and I thought of her
her bright little soul
perched in a tree.
Easy to imagine.

Three years later on her birthday
I walk with my family, granddaughters
looping the path along the river,
new growth full of every bird,
yellow warblers on branches enough
to spot easily, show the girls
the catbird, towhee, song
sparrow, she loved them all,
loved them for being
birds. Maybe a soul in a tree,
but mainly birds.

You, once river-borne stone,
glacially displaced, an erratic;
found rest in this ancient swale.
Cracked open like a sacrifice
split by rain and ice.
Iron pins thorn your heart like a
prairie rose.

We bow in reverence,
inhale the incense of sage breezes smudging you,
a stoic, cradled in ancient layers.
Native prairie testifies,
centuries of knowing
sod never turned by a plough.

Orange lichens cloak your limestone layers,
we touch your timeless edges
worn by wind, sand, passing buffalo.
We, who pillaged your foundations,
now seek your mystery.

Wise sage, we honour your millennia.
What portent lies ahead?

You elder stone, grounded
before spear grasses emerged
before scavenging beetles turned dung
before regal crocuses quilted your bed
before roaming herds followed fire
before eerie coyotes sang to northern lights
before fluttering grouse drummed their dance
before quarry masters and fences—

before our meagre one-second selves.

one morning I cried to nohkôm
what am I worth now without a man to love me
I sat waiting for an answer from a woman who went home 25 years before my cries
I heard nothing – I looked up
the sweet shrill whistle of a bird resting nearby
the wind running its fingers through leaves playing a low murmur
of melody

I noticed how the clouds that never stay were imperfectly shaped
against the blue of sky
I breathed and rested my chin on my hand
I saw the wildness of the grass – greens and yellows growing at their own speed
to reach lengths undefined by each other
I closed my eyes to stop the tears and heard a voice
            you are iskwêw of askiy
            prepared for spring rain when the earth shoots forth with life
and mother’s love starting fresh from the muds of melted ice
you are the heat of summer passion
waking with the sun to dance – to play
long days and short nights when pleasure brings the embrace
of light dreams to lay in the arms of soft land
while ancestors dance brighter than stars
you are ready to let go as you have seen trees free themselves
of the weight of autumn – shrinking back deep to roots to wait for warmth
some days you may be the biting wind of winter
or the cover of snow protecting
you are the single unique snowflake finding its place
to rest on the land
you are a daughter of ôkâwîmâw askiy
your worth cannot be measured by a man
you learn who you are with each day – each moon – each year that passes
you are all of the seasons in spirit
the transitions from warm to cold
from fresh starts to farewells
you know that each mood will pass like an imperfect cloud
that the sun moon and stars will wash color and darkness
over your life in phases
this is who you are
nohkôm carried me long before she went home
she left me this voice for mornings when tears smeared my sight line
leaving doubt and confusion
this morning I woke before light touched the land
I sent prayers on feathery wisps of smoke to nohkôm
thank you for who I am – a daughter of ôkâwîmâw askiy
as the sun crowned the east
I closed my eyes and found my voice

“I thought you were all dead”
Words spoken from a blank canvas
Tainted by their cunning ways
Deception, Death, Despair, Dehumanized
Unrealized; Innocent Ignorance, or is it?
Relatives decimated, to near extinction
What For?
Another’s prosperity
Another’s vanity
eliminate the problem, that’s it!
We are not the problem.
Driven by dominance
Real eyes, realize, real lies
What this country is built upon
Chasing paper truths
All for control
Free spirits, humans being
We continue
Reflection unlocks understanding
To heal
One prayer at a time
We rise
We are the Buffalo Nation
We are still here

Although there are several possibilities,
I could not be sure
of the bird’s name in the bird book
(not written by birds,
and me no expert) not to mention the bird’s name
in the bird’s own tongue we could not repeat
for the shape and chisel of sounds

in their language so unlike our own.
I have heard a bird laugh and one full of praise
for the sun and another one’s voice afraid
warning me (or the crow) to stay away
from her nest, and another with a cry so piercing
quiet (I could not let it out of my head) about the spirit
of her species brought low by humans into a gold mine
situation on earth where they’d lived longer than we
had, before the last ice age with their dinosaur cousins.

You moved to pick the green fellow up on the edge
of a shovel (afraid to snap a frightened wing in capturing
her in cupped hands – the bird could have been ‘him,’
the green quite vivid) but he flit to the branch above
and so I think the green soul was merely tired out

after navigating over cities and skyscrapers
confusing lights and changed terrain (a creek
with reeds dug up, now a muddy canal) resting
between flights on his long journey to the south.
Or maybe he ate some seed brittle with glitter
of some fungicide, all that was left
in the combined field. Although
there are several possibilities
we could not be too sure…

A sleek green body light as a feather, hollow-boned
but pulsing spirited with small sad peepers,
half shut and giving up, I feared
as I peered down at her.

pēyakwāw ēsa wīsahkēcāhk kī-pah-pimohtēw wāsakām sākahikanihk. kā-wāpamāt ēsa niska ē-ay-ohpahoyit ēkwa māna kāwī ē-twēhoyit. māmaskātēw.

“tānisi ōma ē-itahkamikisiyēk nisīmitik?” isi-kakwēcimēw ēsa ōhi niska.

“iyaw, ē-takwākik ōma. wīpac ta-pipon ēkwa tāh-tāhkāyāw! ohcitaw piko sāwanohk ta-isi-pimohtēhoyāhk ēkā kita-nipahāskwaciyāhk,” itwēw ēsa awa pēyak niska.

“mahti nīsta! kika-wīcēwitināwāw!” itwēw wīsahkēcāhk.

“māka wiya ēkā ē-otahtahkwaniyan!” itwēw ēsa awa niska.

“hā, tāpwē wēspinac!”

“hāw, cēskwa, kika-māmawi-wīcihitinān,” itwēw awa niska. nitomēw owāhkōmākana ēkwa itēw ta-tah-tahwamāyit wīsahkēcāhkwa omiyāmiyik. ōta tah-tahkwamik ōhi niska: pēyak ostikwānihk, ēkwa ātiht ospitonihk, ēkwa mīna kotaka oskātihk. ēkosi isi-kaskihtāwak ta-pimohtahācik ostēsiwāwa, wīsahkēcāhkwa. ispimihk pāskac ē-itāpiyit ōhi. ē-sāsakicisiniyit.

“ēkāwiya waskawī nistēsē,” itēw ēsa awa niska ostēsa. “kika-kitiskinitinān kīspin waskawīyani!”

“hāw, namwāc nika-waskawīn.” itwēw ēsa wīsahkēcāhk. ēkosi ati-sipwēpihāwak ōki niskak, ē-tahkonācik ostēsiwāwa. miywēyihtam wīsahkēcāhk ayisk wīsta sāwanohk ē-wī-itohtēhot.

kētahtawē kā-pēhtawāt iskwēwa ē-matwē-mōcikihtākosiyit. “kisāstaw ē-pakāsimoyit,” itēyihtam

sēmak waskawīw, ē-kwēskipayihot, ē-kakwē-wāpamāt anihi iskwēwa. mayaw kā-waskawīt, kā-kitiskinikot anihi niska. 

mitoni ē-pakastawēsihk ita ōki iskwēwak kā-pakāsimoyit. kwayask pāhpihik!

ēkwāni namwāc sāwanohk ohci itohtēhow wīsahkēcāhk māka kēyāpic ōki niskak sāwanohk itohtēhowak tahto-takwākin ēkwa tāpiskōc kēyāpic ē-miciminācik wīsahkēcāhk.

Once Wisahkecahk was strolling along, around a lake, when he saw some geese flying up and then landing again. He wondered what they were doing.

“Little brothers, what are you doing?” he asked the geese.

“Well, it’s autumn now, but soon it will be winter and very cold. We must travel south so that we don’t freeze to death,” one of the geese replied.

“Me too! I’ll come with you!” said Wisahkecahk.

“… but you don’t have any wings,” replied the goose.

“Hmm, truly this is tragic.”

“Okay, wait. All together we will help you,” said the goose. So the goose called his relatives and told them, using their mouths of course, to grab a hold of Wisahkecahk’s body. So the geese did just that: one at his head, a few at his arms and others at his legs. In this way, the geese were able to carry their older brother Wisahkecahk: who was facing upwards, he was on his back.

“Don’t move older brother,” said the goose; “If you move, we might accidently drop you!”

“Okay, I won’t move!” Wisahkecahk replied as the geese began to fly away holding on to him, their older brother. Wisahkecahk was glad as he too was going south. 

Suddenly Wisahkecahk heard some women, and it sounded like they were having fun. “Perhaps they are swimming,” he thought.

Quickly he moved, twisting to try to see those women. As soon as he moved, the geese dropped him.

Wisahkecahk fell right into the water where the women were swimming. Truly they laughed at him.

So Wisahkecahk never made it south but still, when migrating, geese fly in this same formation: as if still holding Wisahkecahk.

See the coyote over there?
I asked the woman, who stopped
to watch us watching the coyote
nosing its sore-footed way
through freshly mowed park lawn,
for the moment paying no attention
whatsoever to the fact it had
metamorphosed from wary scavenger
to topic of conversation,
that despite the animal’s casual
ignoring of us, we were
the ones on full alert.

I see it most mornings,
the woman added,
and it does
the same thing – just trots along
and sniffs like a dog
on its daily rounds.

I thought of my usual mental image:
el coyote picking its cautious way
amid deserty spines and stones,
nosing with the care
and learned reflexes
the desert imposes on creatures.

Meanwhile el coyote pounced upon
something in the lush grass
alongside a dense shrub thicket
and in a quick flash of jaws and teeth
dispatched and ate whatever
Nature provided for breakfast.

Lone goose pipes overhead, silent V comes winging two acres behind. I edge toward a pair of Canada Geese settled under a spruce tree near the Forestry Farm parking lot, speaking in low tones to assure them I come in peace. They’re a welcome sight after another hard prairie winter. I’d like to see them closer-up, and they don’t seem to object.

I stop for a moment and wait. I imagine their perspective in high flight, how remote from human troubles they must be up there in the blue. I tell them that I myself fly sometimes in dreams, and may have a glimmer of what it’s like. One night I sailed up to the spire of a cathedral, and looked over a dark panorama, and far below the lights of the chancery blushed, and two priests went in and shut them off.

I take another step, and wait again. I remember one spring on a muddy path beside the river hearing the resounding ke-CHUNK of an ice-shard breaking and plunging into the water. A goose that was resting on it swished with its wings, rose slightly in the air, shifted two feet over and alighted again. I marvelled at the nonchalance. If you have wings and your bottom falls out, lift and re-settle.  

One more step, another pause. The gander grooms himself. The goose tucks her head down beside her wing. Last year above the riverbank I saw a gaggle of geese on a sandbar. I followed a path down and sat near them to watch. A narrow channel of water separated us, so I was of no concern to them, but they quickly detected the two humans coming through the willows at the sandbar’s far end. The lead goose grunted and slid into the river. Three others followed. Within minutes the whole flotilla was facing the breeze. I love their ascensions – and they rose for me and the world was a wild winging honk-a-lonking, divine moment all full of geese.  

Another step. Halfway to the tree now. The gander looks my way, and I linger again.

I have seen geese on the river angling toward a rocky weir on an island, where a hidden brood of goslings waited, and heard how they sat then, trumpeting in the joy of being home. Behold the fowls of the air, they navigate wind and water currents beyond fathoming, and die without protest into human ears…

…and suddenly this gander hurtles toward me hissing, I stumble back, and he’s airborne straight for my head; I whirl and bolt, trip on the pavement, rear up and lurch toward the car peering over my shoulder; the creature lands and stretches his neck like a viper, and my skinned palms and knees begin throbbing, and I see that I’ve torn a hole in my new jeans. 

Yes, a Hindu parable says, God is in the elephant coming toward you – but also in the mahout sitting on the elephant and shouting, Get out of the way, dodo! 

Ganderdander, I have learned, is God’s voice drawing a line: So far, buster, and no farther. 

talk to the hills
               lose your extravagance
         lie down in the horsemint and sage
                                           grass is a window, look through it

                                          choose sentences carefully, pace yourself
the story is long, see how attentive these smiling bones have become
                                                                                 tell them a good one

there is nothing so wonderful as to be heard to the very end
            of what you needed to say
                                                                               and the silence afterward
                                                  the sigh that comes up the valley
                                                                                                    that is applause


Another damned bill to pay, and I turn into the Shaw parking lot.

Pylons spaced six feet apart on the walk before the door,


a masked clerk waiting outside with her Covid questions ready.

I step towards her, but no, she’s pointing across the lot.


When I turn to look, I see, beyond the Shaw ladder truck,

giant spools of orange cable in the plot by the river,


wild grass and unkempt bushes, the land gone back to nature.

A sudden movement beyond the brush, a white-tail doe raising 


her head, three fawns close beside her, nibbling leaves.

All four pause, watching me, their eyes brown and wide.


Trucks grind by on Manitoba Street, but here, the clerk and I,

gripped by the moment, stand motionless and stare.  

We followed a path of hooves
along the coulees.
Spotted a small herd
of mule deer hidden in the foliage.
Ears alert, they watched
the train of walkers
and bolted
white rumps flagging.

We stopped in the snarled brush
beside a dry creek bed
sat on backpacks and flattened
the thorns and Poison Ivy.

We trudged through the sunken
potholes of cattle
in a bone-dry swamp
and found a trickling stream
where scattered bleached bones
laid, or hung from branches.

At a dugout a dog swam in
the cool muddy water.
We munched on our lunch
in the sun full
of envy.

For years on blistered feet
the hikers have followed their hearts
through the grasslands of Saskatchewan
in the prairie heat.

A retired geologist pointed the land formation.
A historian showed us the old settler trails.
An ornithologist’s keen eyes
found birds we would have missed.
None could identify the Mormon cricket
its large iridescence green
against the dry prairie grass.

We marvelled at the undulating hills.
Heavy clumps of chokecherries within reach.
Investigated caved-in homesteads.
Camped at a farmer’s orchard.
Walked through a Cree reserve.

Raw beauty. Saskatchewan. 

once   sewing a patch on the sleeve of an old shirt
I saw you curled at my feet

later I found your hibernaculum
your family of gliding wonders

I learned how to freeze and listen
each unwinding coil an elongated whisper in the fescue

you and your sisters wove
down the slope around my sandals

black and yellow ribbons
flowing through parched grasses

oh   you are well worth my panegyric
serpent god’s great glow-worm fit for constellations

advancing your loops in a swift weave
to knit up the raveled sleeve of the world

The gopher on his hind legs
is taut with holiness and fright.
Miniature and beardless,
he could be stoned or flooded out,
burnt alive in stubble fields,
martyr to children for a penny a tail.

How can you not believe an animal
who goes down headfirst
into darkness, into the ceaseless
pull of gravity beneath him?
What faith that takes?

I come to him with questions
because I love his ears, how perfectly
they fit, how flat they lie against his head.
They hear the inner and the outer
worlds: what the rain says
underground. The stone’s praise
for the sparrow’s ankle bone.

Little earth-otter, little dusty Lazarus,
he vanishes, he rises. He won’t tell us
what he’s seen.


The great horned owl underfeather you found
suspended on brome teaches you about the near
imperceptibility of grief. About thinness.
How light, hardly snared by down,
filters through and changes just-so
and so grief wears you, makes
you its slight shadow.


The great horned owl underfeather teaches you
about the eyes of someone you long for. How if they could
stroke you, they would be as graceful as the almost
weightless. How if you could look at the sky
through them, you would feel smaller,
but not less.


The great horned owl teaches you that the knack
for flight has something to do with silence. Its wings polish
planes of air; distance shimmers in their wake. In the after-
weep hiccoughing hearts of poplar leaves, how
to feel the silk breath
of looking.

this grass, blue
bouteloua gracilis
knows to wait
for the fullness
of mid-summer rain

ear to the ground
my grandmother
waits and listens:
a sibilance
a grunt
the syntax
of survival

holds her
ground, longing
for the warm
rumble of
hooves, hot
sigh of heavy
muzzles, close
teeth. Still

she dares to
raise her
spikelets, bristling
with desire

hungry for everything

People of eastern lush zones
according to Stegner*
see many greens
prairie people see only one

but we have in our hands
an expansive palette of browns
the rust-brown slough-side dock we like to call fireweed
near to matching the rich furry cattail seed heads
that fling their downy seeds about
the spectrum of browns of a distant prairie hillside
a cascade
from mottled deep brown in the coulees
to the bleached and sun-torched
dry-to-dying hillside grasses

and there the distant glint of red-tinged patches of grass
the telltale sign of warm-season grass
little bluestem, not blue at all
the shimmering fawn-brown of August grasses ungrazed
and the dirty grey-brown of grazed-to-the-clubmoss patches
where ungulates fed

Early summer hosts the rich
violet-brown of extruded anthers of grass
dangling in the wind, wafting yellow-brown pollen about
not forgetting the secularly worshipped
dark green-brown to brilliant golden wheat fields
ripening sure as the sunrise of a summer morning

In another quadrant of our crayon box lie the sky blues
one the rich, laundered, after-the-rain blue
another dark brooding grey thunderstorm blue
there a hazy harvest-sky blue
that will later birth a giant orange-brown harvest moon
yet more in a sequence
from deep, zero-degree-air blue
to frost riddled crackling minus thirty, barely blue air
that allow us to estimate temperature
with one simple glance out the window
apparently not everyone has this tool in their box

So we may only have a few swatches of greens,
most muted by the glare of August sun
or by the armor of fleecy hairs against drought and cold
but our days leap with a rich array of raw
resonant prairie browns and sky blues

We get by…

April’s gusts spin your balcony’s tin bird
Balcony: metal cage, its steel rail
boundaries the brink of your world,
your personal morose meridian.
You only venture beyond that ledge for food &
when you used to go to work. And when
you had a brief lover. Even with your
condition, you don’t live under a rock –
you hear things, reports of a nearby
world, ancient, grassy, where the birds
are real, with names like willet & pipit
& shrike & superhero owls that hear violets
threading up through the grass. Swale
they call this tapestry of reeds & mallow
& vetch & aspen they say trembles not
from fear; rather it’s the house band.
A moment ago you said ‘lover’ though precious
little happened, the thing went extinct almost
before it began. You’ve never been to Swale
World yet even hemmed within your skittish days
you sense it out there, holding its breath just past
all those ten-minute-old houses half the size
of Costco, shoving the city’s edges outward
like your brief lover’s garage-bloated garrison
& once in his hot tub you heard it,
the sounding Swale, and something was crying
out there. A shedding refrain like when someone
calls out over and over for a missing child except
it wasn’t human, it was older, sadder. Back home
in balcony-land where your fake bird writhed &
whirled (so often, wind) you wrote in your journal:
I hate his house. Wrote: I need to get out more.
But by then it was too late.

Funny thing. Was thinking of them.
Thinking of coyotes, anyway.
The young one there,
standing in the snow filled ditch,
just confirmed my musings.

Had to drive to Moose Jaw.
To the saddlery repair shop.
Gary came along with me,
and by Buffalo Pound,
pointed out one to me.

That handsome, wild dog trotted,
in a field alongside the road.
He looked prosperous, fit.
His coat, appearance, lush.
His mien, his bearing, aloof.

My mother would recall,
all the years down east,
as a young girl,
her rest never adjusted to,
the absence of wild singing.

On returning to the plains,
to longed for Stone Bluff Farm,
rest came again. The song.
The prairie wolves’ song,
that was in her blood stream.

An old cowboy relation of mine,
we saw one by Pasqua Lake.
“I shot, trapped, Hell, so damned many.”
“More in common with them,” he said,
“Than all these damned.., people.”
“I guess we’re both out of place.”

He smiled, looking far away.
“I always loved their singing.
Sleeping under the stars.
My horse’s breath. Them howling. Perfect.”

Coming home down the dark trail,
Luna barely a crescent.
As though,glancing from a lit room,
from behind a door, a’crack
into a colossal, black hallway.

His eyes shone back at my lights.
He didn’t move though. Didn’t run.
Laid down when I stopped.
He glanced into the pasture,
then back at me and across the road.

He was young enough, I believe,
to still be with his mother.
Was she hidden in the pasture?
Watching her pup and my truck,
from a safe, dark tangle of willow?

The youngster went on his way.
Ambled slowly in front of me.
His gaze, though calm, was intent.
His tireless dog trot took him,
away into the peace of night.

I fear more their absence.
Most fear their presence.
That fine, handsome stranger,
however corporeal he was,
was also a meld of aim and goal.

There is outright panic at times.
In the news. Chatter radio.
A coyote on some street.
In a new dump of housing.
Encroachers, invaders, that we are.
What should we expect?

We didn’t hate it
Weren’t going to eat it
make its hide into mitts
or moccasins
it was strange to us
if cornered, so told
much bigger than a gopher
the gun we stole much bigger
than what we used
on gophers, the point
now we had the gun
kill something big
But it didn’t come out
of its hole, obey
I aimed
at a fence post, the itch
to kill blew
me into the ditch
blew out your hearing
the whole way home
shouting at you how
to un-steal your father’s gun

as a child
I walked askiy
bending grass beneath
my feet and I wondered
if the ones who were gone
had seen the beauty in this place

the red of mihkopêmak
contrasting the bright greens
of poplar standing nearby
the orange and violets
of sunsets spanning the width
of everywhere I could see

as a teenager
I walked askiy
crunching crisp kona
the turmoil that tore me
sunk away in deep, heavy drifts
fading as the wind brushed away my footprints
I was free
to find my tapwêwin

as a woman
I walk askiy
knowing the beauty
learning the balance
seeing roles accepted by tree, flower, rock
they offer an example of what it is to live
more than just askiy
I have found myself
in this place
my home

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