This critical edition delivers a unique and comprehensive collection of the works of Ktunaxa-Secwepemc writer and educator Vera Manuel, daughter of prominent Indigenous leaders Marceline Paul and George Manuel. A vibrant force in the burgeoning Indigenous theatre scene, Vera was at the forefront of residential school writing and did groundbreaking work as a dramatherapist and healer. Long before mainstream Canada understood and discussed the impact and devastating legacy of Canada’s Indian residential schools, Vera Manuel wrote about it as part of her personal and community healing. She became a grassroots leader addressing the need to bring to light the stories of survivors, their journeys of healing, and the therapeutic value of writing and performing arts.
A collaboration by four Indigenous writers and scholars steeped in values of Indigenous ethics and editing practices, the volume features Manuel’s most famous play, "Strength of Indian Women"—first performed in 1992 and still one of the most important literary works to deal with the trauma of residential schools—along with an assemblage of plays, written between the late 1980s until Manuel’s untimely passing in 2010, that were performed but never before published. The volume also includes three previously unpublished short stories written in 1988, poetry written over three decades in a variety of venues, and a 1987 college essay that draws on family and community interviews on the effects of residential schools.
"With this edition, the editors of Honouring the Strength of Indian Women are ensuring that Vera Manuel's voice will be heard in all its fullness, range, and power for generations to come and beyond. It's evident that Vera Manuel was ahead of her time in reckoning with the history of injustice that Indigenous people have faced in this land since the arrival of the Europeans. She confronts this history fearlessly but with such compassion and wisdom arising from the richness of Indigenous knowledge and ways that we can find within her vision our own individual duty and responsibility to the past."
"This book, as with other examples of Indigenous truth-telling, is in and of itself an act of powerful resistance, healing and resilience, ensuring that the experiences and knowledge of Vera Manuel's people are shared and remembered, and allowing space for wellbeing and the healing of historical traumas to take root."
“Bespeaks a profound ethical engagement as it foregrounds responsibility, collectiveness, and the need to grieve losses and honour survivors through creative acts of witnessing.”
"Consistently, the reader meets individuals who are seeking and sometimes finding a way out of the intergenerational trauma that residential schools and genocidal colonialism have wreaked. Recurring themes and even recurring memories within the five plays and four stories emphasize these impacts, never allowing the reader to lose sight of what transpired in so many Indigenous peoples’ lives over the decades since Europeans took possession of their territories. From early days with grandparents on the land to the force of religion, enacted often violently by priests and nuns within the schools, and from the subsequent painful and often abusive relationships within families to the healing power of speaking truth, the emotions are palpable, the words forceful."