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network 18/01/2017 - 02:00PM

Rana Salah on Empty Lands - Nations & Migrations

The following poem "Our Ancestors" was written by Rana Salah. In this poem, Salah addresses and deconstructs the comfortable truth* of empty homelands. The myth of empty homelands is a myth propelled by invading colonial empires worldwide; a myth fundamental to displacement both here in Canada and abroad.

Rana Salah is a community activist and poet. She currently serves as a board member of QPIRG Concordia and the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia. Her poetry is inspired by personal experiences as a Muslim & Palestinian Canadian woman, along with political climates and incidents that she gains awareness of. You may read more of her poetry on her blog site:

Our Ancestors

do they
not know that
we feel the
presence of

that we can
trace back
our ancestors

and yet
we are
labelled as

they continue
to say
"a land without a people for a people without a land"
yet the land
speak of
was never empty

we are
as ancient
as the land itself

and even
if we were
not indigenous
we do not deserve apartheid
we do not deserve occupation
we do not deserve displacement
nor incarceration

when will
they admit
that their
actions were
always about
settler colonialism?

do they expect
our ancestors
to rise from their
graves so
we can
prove we
are indigenous
to the lands
they hold claim?

they would
perhaps fear
our ancestors
if they rose
from their graves

they claim
to be the
only descendants
of the

yet the
among many
are also
our ancestors

if the Israelites
would they
fear them
as they
fear us?

they displace
them as
displace us?

would they
imprison them
as they
imprison us?

would they
murder them
as they
murder us?

we are
the ancestors
the ancestors
are us

are the
land they

what is done
to us is
what is
done to
the land

and what
is the done
to the land
is what is
done to
the Israelites
and the
rest of
our ancestors


* #ComfortableTruths are mainstream attitudes and ideas about nationhood, belonging and identity that, despite not being true (such as "immigrants have it easy in Canada"), have become so engrained in the Canadian imaginary and mainstream culture that they become orthodoxy. As part of Cinema Politica's Nations & Migrations project we reached out to activists and artists across the country and asked them to share their thoughts and reactions to these so-called truths.


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