Finding a Way to the Heart

Feminist Writings on Aboriginal and Women's History in Canada


When Sylvia Van Kirk published her groundbreaking book, Many Tender Ties, in 1980, she revolutionized the historical understanding of the North American fur trade and introduced entirely new areas of inquiry in women’s, social, and Aboriginal history. Finding a Way to the Heart examines race, gender, identity, and colonization from the early nineteenth to the late twentieth century, and illustrates Van Kirk’s extensive influence on a generation of feminist scholarship.


“An essential piece of work and a must-have book for every scholar, historian, educator and student of Aboriginal culture and contributions.”

Ennis Morris, Alberta Native News

"All of these essays are seminal works that have been deftly edited by the collaborative effort of academicians Jarvis Brownlie and Valerie J. Korinek. The result is an informed and informative body of work that is a valued contribution to, and highly recommended for, academic library Canadian History, Ethnic Studies, and Women's Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists."

Midwest Book Review

"A scholarly book that examines race, gender, identity and colonization from the early 19th century to the late 20th century and illustrates renowned Canadian scholar Sylvia Van Kirk's extensive influence on a generation of feminist scholarship and women's history."

Christine McFarlane, Windspeaker

About the Authors

Jarvis Brownlie is an associate professor in the Department of History at University of Manitoba and author of A Fatherly Eye: Indian Agents, Government Power, and Aboriginal Resistance in Ontario, 1918–1939.

Valerie J. Korinek is a professor in the Department of History at University of Saskatchewan, and is the author of Roughing It in Suburbia: Reading Chatelaine Magazine in the Fifties and Sixties.

Other contributors: Jennifer S.H. Brown, Franca Iacovetta, Valerie J. Korinek, Elizabeth Jameson, Adele Perry, Angela Wanhalla, Robert Alexander Innes, Patricia A. McCormack, Robin Jarvis Brownlie, Victoria Freeman, Kathryn McPherson, Katrina Srigley

Table of Contents

Ch 1: “All These Stories About Women:” Many Tender Ties and a New Fur Trade History by Jennifer S.H. Brown / Ch 2: Sylvia Van Kirk: A Feminist Appreciation of Front-line Work in the Academy by Franca Iacovetta / Ch 3: Daring to Write a History of Western Canadian Women’s Experiences: Assessing Sylvia Van Kirk Feminist Scholarship by Valerie J. Korinek / Ch 4: Ties Across the Border by Elizabeth Jameson / Ch 5: Historiography that Breaks Your Heart: Van Kirk and the Writing of Feminist History by Adele Perry / Ch 6: Beyond the Borders: The “Founding Families” of Southern New Zealand by Angela Wanhalla / Ch 7: Multicultural Bands on the Northern Plains and the Notion of “Tribal” Histories by Robert Alexander Innes / Ch 8: “A World We Have Lost:” The Plural Society of Fort Chipewyan by Patricia A. McCormack / Ch 9: Others or Brothers? Competing Settler and Anishinabe Discourses about Race in Upper Canada by Robin Jarvis Brownlie / Ch 10: Attitudes Toward “Miscegenation” in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia, 1860–1914 by Victoria Freeman / Ch 11: Home Tales: Gender, Domesticity and Colonialism in the Prairie West, 1870–1900 by Kathryn McPherson / Ch 12: “I am a proud Anishinaabe Kwe:” Issues of Identity and Status in Northern Ontario after Bill C-31 by Katrina Srigley