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I Lost My Talk Summary & Analysis
by Rita Joe

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"I Lost My Talk" is a poem by Mi'kmaq poet and songwriter Rita Joe, published in her first collection, Poems of Rita Joe, in 1978. The poem, which is autobiographical, focuses on the speaker's time at Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Canada, a boarding school where Indigenous children were punished for speaking in their native tongue. Losing her "talk," or her ancestral language, left the speaker isolated from her heritage, community, and even her identity itself. The poem highlights the important link between language and culture, and also condemns the way in which colonialist governments may use the oppression of Indigenous languages to oppress Indigenous peoples themselves.

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