“This collection is a veritable homage to the other possible lives inside us. Atikᵁ utei is a heartfelt cry for a community to reclaim its memory. While nature is under threat, Rita Mestokosho invites us to cherish the “library of the earth.” She takes us on the caribou path with hopes that “one day the light will come, judgment will come.”
—Peer assessment committee: Mimi Haddam, Judy Quinn and Gabriel Osson
Atiku utei : Le cœur du caribou is actually two books from Innu poet Rita Mestokosho, Le cœur du caribou and Un jour Madiba m’a dit. The Innu world reaches out to the South African one to speak the path to freedom. The poet evokes her two grandfathers. She walks in the forest, listening to their voices and their dreams.
We received the heart of the caribou to walk with Nutshimit down into our bones. A branch in a tree, Rolihlahla opened the path for all those deprived of love.
Together, Atiku utei and Un jour Madiba m’a dit appeal to the heart’s healing powers. There is no word for freedom in Innu-aimun—the caribou is freedom.
Rita Mestokosho is an Innu poet sharing Innu values at her own pace. Poetry is the language of the heart, the language of the living beings of the sky, the water and the earth. Protector, militant and activist, she is the first Innu to have published poetry. Her first collection, Eshi Uapataman Nukum (Éditions Piekuakami), was published in 1995 and followed by several other works. She lives in Ekuanitshit (Mingan), Quebec.
Photo courtesy of Rita Mestokosho.