Honouring the Strength of Indian Women

Plays, Stories, Poetry

Vera Manuel (Author), Michelle Coupal (Editor), Deanna Reder (Editor), Joanne Arnott (Editor), Emalene A. Manuel (Editor)

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 The volume also includes three previously unpublished short stories written in 1988, poetry written over three decades in a variety of venues, and a 1987 college essay that draws on family and community interviews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.


“An invaluable contribution to our literature about residential school experiences and the effects of transgenerational trauma. With so many current projects focused on “reconciliation,” this republication of Vera Manuel’s works recalls the often forgotten side of the equation: the truth, unvarnished by politics or bureaucracy.”

– Jesse Archibald-Barber, Associate Professor of Indigenous Literatures and Performance, First Nations University of Canada

About the Authors

Vera Manuel (1948-2010) 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 (Métis) is Chair of the Department of First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University and member of the Department of English.

Joanne Arnott (Métis) is a writer, originally from Manitoba. Her most recent work is Halfling Spring: An Internet Romance.

Emalene A. Manuel (Ktunaxa-Secwepemc) is Vera Manuel’s sister and is a Creative Social Development Officer with the First Nations Health Authority in B.C.

Book Details

  • Honouring the Strength of Indian Women: Plays, Stories, Poetry
  • Vera Manuel (Author), Michelle Coupal (Editor), Deanna Reder (Editor), Joanne Arnott (Editor), Emalene A. Manuel (Editor)
  • Published April 2019, 296 pages
  • Paper, ISBN: 978-0-88755-836-8 , 5.5 × 8.5, $24.95
  • Topic(s): Indigenous Studies, Literature, Performing Arts
  • Part of the U of M Press series: First Voices, First Texts

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