We are not done yet – El Jones, a poem about the Halifax Declaration



They tell us our Black lives don’t matter

They say we’re small and we’re scattered

They think we’ll stay down because they think we are battered

They don’t teach us our history and we never get added

So they don’t know our power whenever we gather

In double the languages

Bigger than all of us in here together

We’re used to a pattern of being excluded

But there will be nothing without us included

On these unceded Indigenous lands they’ve tried to subue us

But yet here we stand and it’s here we are rooted

Our culture’s been looted, communities polluted

All our contributions and they still call us stupid?

So much Black excellence rarely saluted

We feel we can’t breathe as they strangle our futures

And yet we’re not muted and our struggle bears fruit

From our ancestors’ stem, we live as the shoots

Africville, Little Burgundy, Hogan’s Alley

Amber Valley

They can never pave over the histories we carry

They can never divide because we are Black family

Our forebears set the stage and now we’re the finale

From the railway porters, to those crossing the borders

The bones of our dead that lie under the waters

We are the sons and daughters of those left in the corners

And they give us our strength and they’ve turned us to warriors

We’re from neglected communities down dead end roads

Denied education and doors always closed

Nurses and Nannies brought in to carry the loads

Dig the trenches in war and then get disposed

But we’ve always held freedom so deep in our souls

When you look in our eyes you see the promise we hold

So don’t be surprised when this power explodes

From Coast to coast to coast

We are a movement and not just a moment

See what can happen when our purpose is potent

They’ve tried to postpone us

Convince us that now the balance has shifted

Label us angry and ungrateful when we insist we’re afflicted

Without any reparation they think they’re acquitted

As they govern from buildings where we’re still not admitted

Walls filled with portraits where we’re not depicted

And a map where slave owners names still remain to be listed

We had a Black woman head of state in this country

But still racism existed

So our calls for justice, recognition development will not be restricted

Our elders persisted, and so we are gifted

And now we’re the tide where all boats are lifted

And no notes omitted when our voices are heard

With one collective vision we take on the world

Because Declaration is more than a word

It’s an inherited fire that always has burned

From the revolution in Haiti our freedom emerged

From Jamaica to Virginia our liberty surged

The African spirit we’ve always preserved

To right here in Nova Scotia where we’re still undeterred

And apologies whispered can never be earned

We never will rest til our land is returned

We are living the dream that our ancestors urged

But when we walk on the streets we can’t move undisturbed

So we’re stirred with demands from our youth to our elders

Because too many Black people still live in our shelters

Are labelled offenders

We can’t even seek healthcare without racist attenders

We dwell in the margins while they take up the Center

Our queer and Trans youth who still struggle with gender

And intersections with race

Wherever we enter they push us back into place

And we’re labelled, surveilled and reduced to our traits

Our young people start school and their talent goes to waste

Before they even leave our wombs our children disgraced

We’re bulldozed, beat down, dispersed and displaced

But when you hear our demands know we won’t be erased

For our power extends far beyond this decade

And we can’t be held back when we’ve fought off our chains

Our declarations they ring with the voice of the slave

From the ones who escaped

From the unmarked graves

From the ships and the sails

So when we carry them forward our backs they don’t break

We are used to the weight, but we’ll no longer wait

So tell Parliament Hill it’s our time to be great

Tell the senate we will, you can tell the whole state

We’re not a seat at your table, we’re here to redecorate

And the Halifax Declaration is what we create

When we’re unified and collective like the call from the trumpet

We’ve been in the depths and we’ve seen our dreams plummet

But we know we’ll ascend and we will see the summit

For our time has come, our time it has come

Our time it has come but we are not done yet.

El Jones, poet

May 16, 2023