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Cecily Nicholson

Cecily Nicholson, from small-town Ontario via Toronto and South Bend, relocated to the Pacific coast almost two decades ago. On Musqueam-, Squamish-, and Tsleil-Waututh-occupied lands known as Vancouver, she has worked, since 2000, in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, most recently as administrator for the artist-run centre and mental health resource, Gallery Gachet. A part of the Joint Effort prison abolitionist group and a member of the Research Ethics Board for Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Cecily was also the 2017 Ellen Warren Tallman Writer in Residence at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Triage and From the Poplars, winner of the 2015 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. 

From the Poplars
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Format: Paperback

In the North Arm of British Columbia’s Fraser River lies an uninhabited island. In the midst of major industry and shipping, it is central to the waterfront of British Columbia’s original capital of New Westminster passed by daily by thousands of SkyTrain commuters. Poplar Island is lush and unspoken, but storied. It is the traditional territory of the Qayqayt First Nation. Made into property, a parcel of land belonging to the “New Westminster and Brownsville Indians,” this is the location of one of British Columbia’s first “Indian Reserves.”

This is also a place where Indigenous smallpox victims from the south coast were forced into quarantine, substandard care and buried. As people were decimated the land was taken and exchanged between levels of government. The trees were clear-cut for industry, beginning with shipbuilding during the First World War. The island still serves as booming anchorage for local sawmills.

From the Poplars is the poetic outcome of archival research, and of listening to the land and the stories of a place. It is a meditation on an unmarked, twenty-seven and a half acres of land held as government property: a monument to colonial plunder on the waterfront of a city, like many cities, built upon erasures. From an emplaced poet and resident of New Westminster, this text contributes to present narratives on decolonization. It is an honouring of river and riparian density, and a witness to resilience, tempering a silence that inevitably will be heard.

Authentic Canadian Content
$16.95

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