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Denise Larocque

I first learned of the Kasala at the local women’s center. Thuy, the teacher, spoke French while a personal translator helped me. I found the experience so moving, I, along with others were brought to tears while we each shared our work. I felt there was something healing and special about this form of Praise Poetry. The piece I wrote that night brought me to tears on the drive home, a deep soul wound, a cry that came from the depths of my soul and I yearned to know more. Upon arriving home, I searched for the Kasala school online and within days I had spoken with Jean, and immediately signed up for classes from the master himself.

I work with First Nations people in a Residential Treatment Center, I plan to take what I have learned and incorporate it into the work I do. As First Nations People who’ve experienced Generational Trauma, healing can take many forms. To me Kasala is a gift, with written words, pen and paper, Kasala has the ability to take you to an unexpected place. Listening to others speak their Kasala, I was amazed at its ability to transform my mind and soul with just a few words. Giving permission, as a way of speaking about myself that society had not deemed natural. A way of praising myself, my nation and the strong names that make up who I am. I am of the First Nation, Mi’gmaq Nation. Kasala asks us to look at where we have come from, what place greeted us in our birth, what other nations curse through my veins? Doing the research brings pride at how unique and special my life is. There is no words grand enough to show my gratitude for Kasala coming into my life, but I plan to share it, so that others can benefit from it. I would love to bring it into the English Schools one day so that the children can continue believing in their worth, before society washes it away.

Tipi Mi'kmaq - illustration Sophie de la Brosse

Kasàlà I am my Mothers Daughter


Before acknowledging my lineage 

I first swim through guilt and shame 

Connected to my mother in the womb 

Then not again until the age of fifty-one 

Laughter was our medicine 

I loved her for a path she forged for me                 Giving me the world of talents

Seeing to it I wouldn’t drown, in the mucky weeds that engulfed me midsummer

That a strong dismount over uneven bars would give me strength

Or a cartwheel on the balance beam, would gift me with pride 

Still dipping my toe down, balancing as I find my way 

She saw to it, that my tutu was sewn, and my tap shoes shone

Made sure I could toss a baton or hit a tennis ball 

Love was a gift, not a commodity 

Now fifty-two                  I find the gift of Kasala                                 

Easily I praised the loving arms of my grandmother

                       her rocking chair was my safe place       its where love resided

Love seen through my child like eyes needed a magnifying glass for my mother 

It was in the places she drove me too                  The time she took out of her day

In the meals she cooked for me                        or the times she let me wander away


Linage, however 

Comes from not just the nurturers

But from the 10,000 ancestors who are within me 

From the lineage of my Norwegian        French               and Mi’kmaq roots 

From the strength of women who stood up to vote, and for the governance of body over state

It’s in the women            who shown me how to speak up for myself 

In the earth that nourishes me            from the universe that gives me my power 

My relatives the trees and plant medicines 


From the community that excepts me

From my teachers of many races with their wise voices

It’s in my ability to see clearly through the pain and resilience of my people

From the women whose family were once slaves 

The historian woman who greeted me upon my arrival

The witch and bee keeper who taught me the craft 

The Midwives who keep culture and tradition alive

In the fist      held high           from women who yell NO!!!!

I-am-the-death-card-in-the-tarot-deck    I-am-the – one -who- learned -to- forgive

I-am-the -one -who -see’s- clearly -through -the- eyes- of- my- spirit 

I -am- the- tamer- of- ego

I -am- The-light- hearted -thinker

I -am- the- teacher- of- Kasala         who shall bring her people understand of healing 

I -am- the- light- maker         The -peace- keeper            The- fire -starter- for- change                            


The- torch -carrier

I- am -a -creator               a -medicine -woman          I- am -you                                                           

I -am -a -mirror- for- all- that- the- world -is- good             I- am -epit              I- am 

I -am -the- one- who- loves- her- Mother 

I -am- my- Mother’s- daughter 

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