Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival


264 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-894549-21-X
DDC 305.45'897071





Edited by Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence
Reviewed by Kerry Abel

Kerry Abel is a professor of history at Carleton University. She is the author of Drum Songs: Glimpses of Dene History, co-editor of Aboriginal Resource Use in Canada: Historical and Legal Aspects, and co-editor of Northern Visions: New Perspectives on the North in Canadian History.


Anthologies of essays by Aboriginal women have been a staple of Native
studies and women’s studies courses in Canada and the United States
for more than 20 years. This collection represents a new generation’s
welcome contribution to the genre. While anthologies from the 1980s
tended to emphasize the particular victimization of Aboriginal women
under the yoke of colonialism, this collection also looks ahead to ways
in which positive change can be achieved.

The book’s 20 contributors (one of whom is male) include artists,
storytellers, teachers, and community workers, and they represent the
spectrum of urban and non-urban, status and non-status, and variety of
First Nations peoples across Canada. There are examples of social
activism through the arts, community projects to address problems of
education and violence, and personal journeys in search of identity and
healing. Of course, some essays are more effective than others at
conveying their messages, but overall, this is an interesting and
provocative collection. Hard questions are raised about contemporary
practices that are deemed “traditional” and yet are harmful to
women, and some projects (like a Mi’kmaq community school in Nova
Scotia) are honestly discussed for both their successes and their
problems. The women’s stories reflect hope for a better future through
a grassroots activism led and sustained by the personal strength and
power of women who are reclaiming their place as nurturers of the
community. The lessons of these stories will obviously be of interest to
First Nations readers, but they deserve to be more widely appreciated as


“Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,