Story Starter December 2017 – James Simon Mishibinijima

Our December Story Starter features artwork by James Simon Mishibinijima, one of Canada’s foremost Native artists.

To enter, write a short piece (100 words maximum) inspired by the art pictured here. It can be any form of writing (poetry, prose, dialogue, haiku, etc.) as long as it is original, in English, and based on the featured artwork. Submit your entry in the comment section below.

There is no restriction of age, location (subject to local laws), or cost associated with entering the contest. You have until midnight on December 31, 2017 to submit your story. Check the full entry rules and format here.

Finalists and winners will be determined by judges selected by the OWC and will be announced Spring 2018.

 e look forward to reading your Story Starters.

About The Artist

Credit: Jean Simon

One of Canada’s foremost Native artists, James Simon Mishibinijima has created a unique body of work over the past four decades, attracting a loyal following in North America and overseas. He was born in 1954 in Wikwemikong, Manitoulin Island, where he grew up immersed in the legends of the Ojibway people.

From the 1970s onward, Mishibinijima has explored many sacred places around Manitoulin Island and originated the coveted Mishmountain series, among others. His uplifting philosophy has found resonance with those who seek solace in the midst of tragedy, and meaning in a world that is often confusing and frightening.

In his work Mishibinijima underscores the wisdom of the Elders’ teachings as a way to foster respect and peace. He also emphasizes the interconnectedness of all life and calls upon nations to preserve our natural surroundings for the benefit of our children.

Want to check out past contest entries? Click here.

Feeling inspired? Paste in your 100-word original entry below!

** Please note the delay between comment submission and approval. Please submit an entry one time only -thank you!**

  • The Importance of Conversing with Elders (100 words, exclusive of title)

    “I turn to you for guidance.”
    “And I turn to you for assistance.”

    “I look to you for knowledge.”
    “And I enjoy your inquisitiveness.”

    “I wonder about your stories.”
    “And I appreciate your curiosity.”

    “I admire your strength.”
    “And I, yours.”

    “I respect your wisdom.”
    “And I, your youth.”

    “You remind us the ways of our ancestors.”
    “And you share the variations of new generations.”

    “You keep tradition in our lives.”
    “As do you.”

    “You clarify things that have no explanation.”
    “And you look for answers where there are none.”

    “Thank you, for your patience”
    “And you, for your persistence.”

  • The voice of time is heard through the dialogue of the two sides of the wheel…

  • When a wee child, my gran spoke to me of dreams. She talked as if they were real things. So small, I didn’t understand that there was a difference between those realities. Later I discovered — or was told — that Gran wasn’t always right in the head. I mention this because I had a dream last night that I thought was real. Two trembling creatures held hands. One reached its free hand toward me. Fearful, I ran, not knowing whether it was young life holding onto death or death holding onto life. I wanted no part of either.

  • Grasping the youth’s hand
    He sucks marrow from young bones
    And straightens anew

  • Weakened by his foolishness man grasped natures hand in a vain attempt to save himself. But he despoiled the partnership at the expense of everything else. Gone are the species that blended so well, reducing the remnants ineffectual as they reach across an empty chasm in a pointless search for survival.

  • soul to soul, we breathe, connected, there is no other way …

  • Spirit Helper’s Prayer

    Come with me, Anishinabe,
    let me help you understand.
    Take my hand, can you feel
    how we are connected?
    Kitche Manitou created all the
    creatures that roam the Earth
    and made them equal… except for you.
    We are your spirit helpers.
    You dream your power from us.
    But your desire disturbs the rhythm.
    Your anger damages the harmony.
    Your greed destroys the balance.
    Anishinabe, how can I make you see?
    Your spirit helpers will never recall
    the power we give you, but
    you must stop killing our Mother.


    Hold on Mother Nature, please
    For we’re the only ones left
    You warned them
    Of icecaps melting
    Polar bears starving, dying
    Oceans rising, islands sinking
    but they refused to listen

    Earthquakes, tsunamis
    Volcanoes, droughts, and forest fires
    Technology over nature they insisted

    East versus west
    North Korea against the U.S.
    The Middle East ever in turmoil
    With Armageddon threatening
    Yet they failed to hear your cry

    Keep holding my hand
    Mother Nature, please
    It’s never ever too late
    For wounded as we are
    And as desolate the future
    Together we’ll make it whole again

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