Read the full poem on Canadian Literature’s website at https://canlit.ca/article/covenant/.
In this poem, I use erasure to address the erasures caused by past exclusionary and restrictive policies based on the concept of race, specifically restrictive covenants on property. Restrictive covenants which prohibited people of African and Asian descent from living in BC homes (unless they were servants) were standard, not only in West Vancouver’s British Properties, but also in Edgemont, Westmount, Upper Capilano, and the Vancouver neighbourhoods of Shaughnessy and Kerrisdale. (See “West Van councillor aims to scrub racist land title rules,” North Shore News, Jan 21, 2020 https://www.nsnews.com/local-news/west-van-councillor-aims-to-scrub-racist-land-title-rules-3115307) Similar restrictive covenants are still registered in Land Titles Offices across the province, although legislation was enacted to declare them null and void in 1978. Two high school students took steps to officially remove one in 2019 on a 1908 house in Port Alberni, BC owned by Alan Webster Neill, a member of parliament who “supported the Indian Residential School System as an Indian agent and was pro-Japanese internment and opposed Asian immigration.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/port-alberni-vancouver-island-racist-covenant-property-title-1.5277395 Restrictive covenants were used elsewhere in Canada and North America. But the anti-erasure in this poem can refer to other legal measures that explicitly supported racial segregation, displacement, deportation, and exclusion in order to create, maintain and enforce whites-only spaces (e.g. Head Tax legislation, The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923, the eviction and internment of 22,000 Japanese Canadians, forced relocation measures undertaken against the Innu of Davis Inlet, the Squamish of Senakw, Black Canadians in Africville in Nova Scotia, and in Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver, South Asians on board the Komagata Maru, the residential school system, among numerous examples),