Poem: When Great Women Soar

Editor’s Note: In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are pleased to be featuring a poem by artist, poet, and photographer Janet Kvammen as a kickoff for our new category here on Tenth to the Fraser – Art Share. In addition to the photo essays we are now sharing, we’ll also be sharing poetry, fiction, and artwork by local community artists. If you’re an artist and would like to be considered, you can contact us via email at info at tenth to the fraser dot ca. 

When Great Women Soar

© Janet Kvammen 2015

When great women roar
Obstacles fall away
Mountains crumble
In her wake
And She rises.

And when great women
Are pushed to the floor
Faith stumbles
Righteous anger
Floods rivers,
Black and blue.
The truth will be told
From shore to shore,
Secrets no more.

When great women soar
Skies clear of clouds
Love shelters all
In its embrace
And dark days shine –

The world blossoms,
Tragic kingdoms
Sink to bottomless pits,
Lightness reigns.

All the great children
Of this Earth
Women bore.
From child to woman,
From waifs to warriors
All from her womb,
To the cradle
And the grave
Born each man, too.
Her beloved sons
and daughters.

Rise with respect.
Remember us,
Women from all
And all one.

Janet Kvammen is an artist, photographer, and poet soon to be living in New Westminster. You can see more of her work on her Facebook Page

One Reply to “Poem: When Great Women Soar”


    The hidden story, was the headline
    in the New Westminster Record, June 2009—
    this award-winning cover story by Alfie Lau
    tells of Chief Rhonda Larrabee

    her mother seemed French
    till she told her story

    of 104 acres on the Fraser—
    Marie Joseph was among the last
    to go to residential schools—
    a last survivor of the Qayqayt people

    after Marie came to Chinatown
    married Art Lee—
    Rhonda and her brothers
    grew up ‘Chinese’

    her mother seemed French
    said she’d tell her story once

    now Rhonda is the Chief
    of Qayqayt First Nation—
    one of Canada’s smallest clans
    one without land…

    Rhonda is gracious—
    volunteers in the city
    our ‘royalty’—
    New Westminster’s Chief Rhonda Larrabee.

    Franci Louann flouann@telus.net summer 2009
    First published in Royal City Poets Anthology 2011 (Silver Bow Publishing);
    Published also in
    GRACE, GRIT AND GUSTO Profiles of Remarkable Royal City Women (Vivalogue 2012),
    following Rhonda’s story about her mother and herself.

    Notes re the poem:
    Chief Rhonda Larrabee has three brothers. Their mother’s clan’s land was on the Fraser River, just south of where Woodlands school was located. They spoke Coast Salish Upriver dialect.
    New Westminster, named by Queen Victoria, is known as ‘The Royal City’. The oldest city west of Ontario and central to the Lower Mainland, its population is 66,000. Rhonda’s father was Chinese and her mother passed for the same.
    In 2013 the New Westminster School Board confirmed this name for a new school:
    École Qayqayt Elementary.
    New Westminster First Nations tribute politics

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