Matthew James Weigel | Excerpt from IT WAS TREATY/IT WAS ME, 1st Place Winner of the 2020 Vallum Chapbook Award

from It Was Treaty/It Was Me


I will ask the interpreter to read to you what has been written,
and before I go away I will have a copy made
to leave with the principal Chiefs.
—Alexander Morris, Commissioner, Treaty No. 6

did you know where the river would take you when you first saw it?
watched it bend toward you, wrap you up in school and bridges in a loop.
watched it swim away, even as it still holds you.

wait here, this is where we’ll meet
at pêhonân

did you know how much you would resemble an ocean?
gather everything, who you are
wait and gather wait and gather

these are things the river says here,
speaks again downstream,
wait and gather wait and gather
touch the pencil
make your mark

did you know that when you wrote this down the river would remember it?


Author’s Bio

Matthew James Weigel (he/him) is a Dene and Métis poet and artist pursuing an MA in English at the University of Alberta. His words and art have been published by Book*Hug and The Mamawi Project, while his first self-published chapbook “… whether they took treaty or not, they were subject to the laws of the Dominion” is held in Bruce Peel Special Collections.