22 March 2007

The Passing of Rita Joe


Rita Joe, known as the 'poet laureate' of the
Mi'kmaq First Nation, passed away on Tuesday
night. She was 75 and had waged a long battle
with Parkinson's disease.

Sad news, indeed.

I first met Rita and her husband, Frank Joe, back
in the early 1970's at a Writer's Federation of
Nova Scotia meeting. We became good friends.
Then, when I started my work with traditional
plant medicines, I visited Eskasoni, Cape Breton,
and stayed with Rita and Frank and their family.

I have fond memories of that visit. It seems like
only a few short years ago since I was there. In
fact, my visit took place over 30 years ago.

Rita, I'm going to miss you. We both started
writing seriously at about the same time. I
always felt a special connection to you and
Frank, even though we lost contact with each
other, years ago.

May the Great Spirit bless you, Rita Joe!

Good medicine always,