The Terrible Beauty of the Reserve

Everyone’s uncle thinks that they are the world’s most handsome NDN, and no one says otherwise.

quote displayed on a blue background
The Walrus

After Saidiya Hartman

Everyone’s uncle thinks that they are the world’s
most handsome NDN, and no one says otherwise.

Rez dogs roam about without having to perform
emotional labour for humans. They eat where they

are welcomed, which is everywhere. Most who live
here do not know that they are in the ruins of a sick

experiment that failed. Teens blaze to feel the
euphoria of being outside of memory.

We all bathe in the sociality of the hangover. It is not
that no one has time for themselves, it is that they are

always playing cards or talking about Connor McDavid
or carpooling to bingo or babysitting their brothers’ kids.

We all owe something to someone, so we congregate
under the pretense of debt, and this is always-already.

We all joke about falling in love with our cousins,
but we are all perpetually falling in love with our cousins

in a platonic way, because we grew up together and
no one was alienated by the tyranny of the couple form.

Vehicles pass through in droves, but no one looks,
so we drown together in the freedom of utter anonymity.

Billy-Ray Belcourt
Billy-Ray Belcourt is a poet, author, and scholar from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize for his debut collection, This Wound Is a World.

Like What You’re Reading?

Fact-based journalism is our passion and your right.

We’re asking readers like you to support The Walrus so we can continue to lead the Canadian conversation.

With COVID-19, now more than ever The Walrus’ journalism, fact checking, and online events play a critical role in informing and connecting people. From public health to education to the economy, this pandemic presents an opportunity to change things for the better.

We feature Canadian voices and expertise on stories that travel beyond our shores, and we firmly believe that this reporting can change the world around us. The Walrus covers it all with originality, depth, and thoughtfulness, bringing diverse perspectives to bear on essential conversations while setting the highest bar for fact-checking and rigour.

None of this would be possible without you.

As a nonprofit, we work hard to keep our costs low and our team lean, but this is a model that requires individual support to pay our contributors fairly and maintain the strength of our independent coverage.
Donations of $20 or more will receive a charitable tax receipt.
Every contribution makes a difference.
Support The Walrus today. Thank you.