Some say your ancestors arrived from the Bering land bridge 4000 years ago, followed the caribou herds. Mine arrived here by boat from Lebanon in the early 20th century. You and me: two very different tribes. I joke about it now, the snow and sand intersecting on a map of Canada. I help you navigate your way through school in the South. Teach you the modern economy and grammar and Alice Munro. You share your bannock recipe. At night we meet on Facebook. I study your posts of the sprawling tundra. You miss your family. Paingupaa, you write with an emoji heart. You text me a private message: Can I see you tomorrow in your office? I have a paper due. Teach me your language, I reply. How to say, “I love you.” Nalligivagit, you write. I repeat it. It is a beautiful sounding word.
*My winning entry for the 150 Words for 150 Years Flash Writing Contest, part of the 2016-2018 AWE III project funded by the Community Cultural Action Fund (CCAF) of Canadian Heritage.