In Loving Memory, First Nations Vera Manuel from Canada!

World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award Winner , mentor to many and supporter,Vancouver-based Secwepemc-Ktunaxa playwright, poet, and storyteller, was honoured in a special World Poetry Café Radio Show Program, on July 22, with co-host poet and writer Wanda Kehewin and Ariadne Sawyer. This is one of the series honouring those who have passed to another world. Music by Mary Young Blood and Honey Novick. Tech: Israel Mota!
Ariadne and  Wanda presented her poems , told stories about her, and read from her play The Strength of Indian Women,  about residential-school life.
Vera  Manuel and Gabriel Bartleman, Tsartlip elder were instrumental in helping to create, Ariadne’s upcoming book, Love Poems for the World, Dream Offerings. Ariadne read a poem that Vera dictated to her in a dream poem called Vera’s Speaks.   *Sadly, yet another  show not archived so we cannot link it.

Vera was the eldest daughter of Grand Chief George Manuel, the first president of the National Indian Brotherhood.

Her play, Strength of Indian Women was staged through-out North American and published as in the anthology Two Plays about Residential Schools (along with Larry Loyie). Her work was honoured with inclusion at the Native American Women Playwrights Program, housed at Maima University, in Oxford, Ohio. Her poetry has appeared in various publications, most recently in ROCKSALT: An Anthology of Contemporary B.C. Poetry.

She was given a Life-time Achievement Award by the World Poetry organization here in Vancouver and the Aboriginal Writer’s Collective will be arranging the publication of her work in the near future. She was a Poet-in-Resident with the Aboriginal Media Lab.

She was the daughter of cultural leader Marceline Paul and political leader George Manuel Sr. She is survived by her loving dog U’tspo and 4 loving brothers; Arthur, Richard, George Jr., and Ara; her 4 loving sisters; Emaline, Doreen, Martha and Ida; and her numerous loving nieces and nephews. Predeceased by her Mother, Marceline Paul, Father, George Manuel Sr, and Brother Robert (Bobby) Manuel.   Partial source: The Georgia Straight.

When I First Came to Know Myself.

When I First Came to Know Myself,
My mother said,  “ I was only three years old
and traveling up in the mountains
with my grandparents. My grandfather
 and grandmother loved me
 very much and took me
 everywhere with them
and taught me everything.
At that time I knew my place
 in the world.
I knew where I came from
and where I was going.
Everything was clear to me,
That is when I first came to know myself.
Then the priest came
and took me from my people
and I lost everything.
I came to know myself again later in life
I quit drinking and it all came back to me,
my grandparents teachings.”

“When I first came to know myself.”
I said, “ I was already a woman
almost 40-years old, until then I had
no knowledge, I had no place in the world
and I knew nothing about my people.
When I first came to know myself
I was sitting inside the sweatlodge
praying with my mother
listening to her gentle voice
speaking in her language to the spirits.
Greeting them as if they were
 old friends come to visit.
It is very dark and the air
is thick with cedar,
I sat bent with tears
streaming down my face.
Crying because I felt so safe.
And for the first time in my life
I felt clean. That is the time
when I first came to know myself.”

By Vera Manuel  © Source: The World Poetry Anthology, 2000, World Poetry Publishing.

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