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 The volume also includes three previously unpublished short stories written in 1988, poetry written over three decades in a variety of venues, and a 1987 college essay that draws on family and community interviews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.
About the authors
Vera Manuel (1949-2010) was an Ktunaxa-Secwepemc writer at the forefront of Residential School writing who did tremendous work as a dramatherapist and healer.
Michelle Coupal (Bonnechere Algonquin First Nation) is the Canada Research Chair in Truth and Reconciliation Education and Associate Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Regina.
Deanna Reder, a Cree-Métis scholar, holds a joint appointment as an assistant professor in Simon Fraser University’s First Nations Studies Program and the Department of English. Her main fields of study are Indigenous literary theories and autobiography theory, with a particular focus on Cree and Métis life writing. She recently published on Edward Ahenakew in Studies in Canadian Literature.
Linda M. Morra, an associate professor at Bishop’s University, specializes in Canadian studies/literature, with a particular focus on twentieth-century Canadian writers. Her publications include a book on the letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth (Corresponding Influence, 2006), an anthology about Marshall McLuhan (At the Speed of Light There Is Only Illumination, 2004), and essays about Tomson Highway, Jack Hodgins, and Mordecai Richler.
Joanne Arnott (born 16 December 1960 in Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a Canadian Métis writer.Arnott's works are intimate with an activist slant, exploring the issues faced by a mixed-race girl and woman in poverty, the family, danger, love and childbirth. She writes about these topics from personal experience, as a Métis and a mother of six. She has conducted workshops across much of Canada, and in Australia, including a recent series at the Carnegie Centre, sponsored by SFU.She received the Gerald Lampert Award for her 1991 collection of poetry Wiles of Girlhood.Arnott lives in British Columbia with her family. She is a founding member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast, and The Aunties Collective. She has served on The Writers Union of Canada National Council (2009), The Writers Trust of Canada Authors Committee, and as jury member for the Governor General's Awards/Poetry (2011).
Emalene Manuel (Ktunaxa-Secwepemc). Vera Manuel’s sister, Emalene Manuel recently completed her Master of Education in Educational Administration and Leadership at the University of British Columbia.
"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."
Drama Therapy Review
"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."
"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."
Native American and Indigenous Studies
“Bespeaks a profound ethical engagement as it foregrounds responsibility, collectiveness, and the need to grieve losses and honour survivors through creative acts of witnessing.”
Other titles by Deanna Reder
Recollections of a Forest Life
The Life and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh
Cold Case North
The Search for James Brady and Absolom Halkett
Read, Listen, Tell
Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island
Learn, Teach, Challenge
Approaching Indigenous Literatures
Revisioning Critical Conversations