Author Helen Knott, a Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw, Metis and mixed Euro-descent woman who lives in Fort St. John, British Columbia, invites readers on her emotionally gripping, life-transforming journey of discovering what it means to be a matriarch. In her previous book, In My Own Moccasins, Knott shared her story of addiction, intergenerational trauma and the healing she experienced through the love of the matriarchs in her family and other women. Now, she relates the trauma of losing her mother to cancer and then her grandmother to dementia within six months of each other.
Feeling cast adrift and enmeshed in the brokenness of her and her mother and grandmother’s pasts, Knott believes that she must be the “emotional rock” for her family: “I was taught to anticipate the needs of people, filling them without being asked…We Indigenous women are applauded for carrying our families and communities on our backs without complaint.”
When Knott finally learned the hard way that it is emotionally unhealthy and impossible to incessantly carry the weight of others’ needs, she began to seek a new pattern for her life. She asked herself, “If I were to give myself permission to live a life centered on joy and become whoever I needed to be – what would that look like?”
As Knott reflected on Indigenous women, she saw that their lives and her own had been defined by oppression: “So many of our mothers lived within boundaries given to them based on their race, sex, class and where all those things intersect. So many of our mothers waited for permission instead of giving it to themselves. So many of our mothers didn’t even have the ability to grant themselves permission.”
Knott, despite myriad obstacles, began to see her life as “a chance to break cycles, heal and create change.” Though that process was mired in much relational messiness and suffering, she finally came to view herself as an Indigenous woman “reclaiming her right to cultivate joy and experience soft moments.”
In her memoir, which includes vulgar language, Knott frankly and poignantly shares her Indigenous spiritual worldview, visionary dreams, the trauma of sexual violence, the searing emotional pain of losing the two women whom she loved and counted on for guidance, her many failed relationships with men and her deep love for her son. Christian readers can gain insight and empathy for their Indigenous siblings, at home and around the world. (Knopf Canada)