26 January 2020


In 1989, I read a review of an album in Thrasher magazine that would lead me to one of my favourite recordings—and rock bands—of all time: the Quebecois progressive thrash metal band, Voivod, whose masterpiece, Nothingface, was released that year. I could wax nostalgic about the band all day, but for the sake of this post they’re really just the context for something else. Although I stopped following them actively after several years, they recently released a music video that I came across on YouTube. The song bore the strange title, ‘Kluskap O‘ Kom,’ and the animated video created by drummer Michel Langevin featured a terrifying figure stalking through the woods. I looked up the title, and discovered that it refers to a figure out of Canadian First Nations legend. Eventually, I also came upon the following poem.

By Rita Joe

I left a message to nikmaqq+
In the caves of stone
My home.
The message say I go away
But someday return,
And the sun will again shine
Across the trails
My people walk.

*Klu’skap-o’kom—Klu’skap’s home.
+Nikmaqq—My friends or Micmac.

In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, there are caves at a place, Kelly’s Mountain, where the legend says that Klu’skap left and will return someday. The place is beautiful in the rising and setting sun, hence the legend the Micmacs passed from generation to generation. The $46 million quarry nearby may destroy the caves, and the legend will only be a story of our past; as always this usually happens.

(Oct. 21, 1989) R.J.)

From Canadian Literature No. 124-125, Native Writers & Canadian Writing (Spring/Summer), p. 122.

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