Vera Manuel devoted her life to encouraging others to free ourselves through the use of our personal voices. Telling the truth is disarming, speaking your truth is a generous and healing gift.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Vera's book: Honouring the Strength of Indian Women

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 The volume also includes three previously unpublished short stories written in 1988, poetry written over three decades in a variety of venues, and a 1987 college essay that draws on family and community interviews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
“Layered with intergenerational wisdom, replete with lived experience, this collection deftly presents both the devastating legacy of residential schools and the complex systems of care that sustain Indigenous women and fuel Indigenous resurgence.”
– Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings


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 Canada Research Chair in Truth, Reconciliation, and Indigenous Literatures, and Associate Professor at the University of Regina.
Deanna Reder (Métis), Associate Professor in First Nations Studies and English at Simon Fraser University, leads The People and the Text.
Joanne Arnott (Métis/Mixed Blood), writer, editor, and arts activist, received the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award and Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Literary Arts.
Emalene A. Manuel (Ktunaxa-Secwepemc) worked with her sister, Vera, in Storyteller Theatre. In 2018 she completed her Masters of Education at the University of British Columbia.


  • 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 StudiesLiteraturePerforming Arts
  • Part of the U of M Press series: First Voices, First Texts