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.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Arthur Manuel

Photo from AM's facebook offerings
On Wednesday, January 11, 2017, at 11:00 p.m., Arthur Manuel, our beloved father, grandfather, husband, brother, uncle, warrior, and teacher passed away.
Arthur was one of our most determined and outspoken Secwepemc leaders and activists—a pillar in the resistance, known globally for his tireless advocacy for indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination. He passed on into the spirit world surrounded by many generations of his loving family.
Arthur was the son of Marceline Paul of the Ktuanaxa Nation and George Manuel of the Secwepemc Nation. George was a political leader and visionary who served as president of the National Indian Brotherhood and the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. Arthur was born into the struggle and groomed to be a leader and defender of indigenous rights and title.
Coming up as a young leader in the 1970s, he served as president of the National Native Youth Association, leading the occupation of Indian Affairs. He attended Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec) and Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto, Ontario). He returned to his community and was elected chief of Neskonlith Indian Band, chair of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, and chair of the Assembly of First Nations Delgamuukw Implementation Strategic Committee.
He was a long-time cochair of the North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and former cochair of the global caucus. He was active in the Defenders of the Land and Idle No More movement and as a board member of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. He was one of the main strategic thinkers of the decolonization movement in Canada.
As the spokesman for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, he convinced the World Trade Organization to recognize that indigenous peoples are subsidizing the B.C. lumber industry through the nonrecognition of aboriginal title. He was coauthor, along with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, of the award-winning Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call, with a foreword by his friend and fellow activist Naomi Klein. He worked selflessly in defence of indigenous territorial authority and he fiercely opposed any termination of indigenous land rights. He rejected provincial and federal authority over unceded indigenous land and challenged the extinguishment of indigenous title through the B.C. treaty process.
He fought climate change, battling the imminent threat of pipelines across Secwepemc territory. He was a world traveller who connected indigenous nations across the globe to unite in a common vision and defend their rights. He was gifted a button blanket by the Nuxalk Nation and has received countless honours for his work around the world.
Arthur was also a teacher and a mentor to many. He was a source of knowledge for youth and young leaders. Through his fierce love for his people, he shone a light on the path to justice for a new generation of activists. He’s a residential-school survivor, having attended the Kamloops (Kamloops, B.C.), St Eugene’s (Cranbrook, B.C.), and St. Mary’s (Mission, B.C.) residential schools.
Arthur is survived by his life partner, Nicole Schabus, by his sisters Emaline, Martha, Doreen, and Ida, his brothers George, Richard, and Ara, and by his children, Kanahus, Mayuk, Ska7cis, and Snutetkwe. He is predeceased by his parents, sister Vera, brother Bobby, beloved son Neskie, and his grandchildren Napika Amak and Megenetkwe.
In his most recent article on Canada’s 150th celebration, published only a week before his death, Arthur insisted again that Canada was built entirely on the theft of Indigenous lands:
"Our Indian reserves are only .02% of Canada's land and yet Indigenous peoples are expected to survive on them. This has led to the systematic impoverishment of Indigenous people and the crippling oppression that indigenous peoples suffer under the current colonial system. The .02 land based is used to keep us too poor and too weak to fight back. It is used to bribe and co-opt the Indigenous leadership into becoming neocolonial partners to treat the symptom of poverty on Indian reserves without addressing the root cause of the problem, which is the dispossession of all of the Indigenous territory by Canada and the provinces."—First Nations Strategic Bulletin, August-December 2016 Issue

The Reconciliation Manifesto

Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy

By Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, Preface by Naomi Klein

Unsettling Canada

A National Wake-Up Call

  • Canadian Historical Association Aboriginal History Book Prize, 2016 (Winner)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

ʔaq̓am + archival work

I had the opportunity to visit Emalene Manuel, 
in ʔaq̓am and Cranbrook. 
to create a portable archive of Vera Manuel's work.
Our hope is that a new book of Vera's plays and poetry will soon be available, 
ʔaq̓am incl. St Eugene's Church
St Eugene's-- mission, residential school, now Casino & Golf Course
Emalene photographing portrait of her grandmother, Mary Paul
A view from Emalene's backyard
(JA photos)
postcard: The People and the Text: save the dates (June 2017)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Unsettling Canada

Unsettling Canada is built on a unique collaboration between two First Nations leaders, Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ron Derrickson.
Both men have served as chiefs of their bands in the B.C. interior and both have gone on to establish important national and international reputations. But the differences between them are in many ways even more interesting. Arthur Manuel is one of the most forceful advocates for Aboriginal title and rights in Canada and comes from the activist wing of the movement. Grand Chief Ron Derrickson is one of the most successful Indigenous businessmen in the country.
Together the Secwepemc activist intellectual and the Syilx (Okanagan) businessman bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to Canada’s most glaring piece of unfinished business: the place of Indigenous peoples within the country’s political and economic space. The story is told through Arthur’s voice but he traces both of their individual struggles against the colonialist and often racist structures that have been erected to keep Indigenous peoples in their place in Canada.
In the final chapters and in the Grand Chief’s afterword, they not only set out a plan for a new sustainable indigenous economy, but lay out a roadmap for getting there.

“This is the back story of both grassroots and backroom struggles that created the context in which we find ourselves today, one in which a new generation of First Nations leaders is demanding sovereignty and self-determination, and more and more non-Indigenous Canadians finally understand that huge swaths of this country we call Canada is not ours—or our government’s—to sell.”
– Naomi Klein, from the Foreword
“Pragmatic and helpful, this is a timely book for our fraught and political moment”
– Quill & Quire
Unsettling Canada is a breathtakingly beautiful story of Indigenous resistance, strength, and movement building. Unsettling Canada echoes the power of George Manuel’s The Fourth World, centering the heart of the narrative deep inside a kind of Indigenous intelligence rarely shared outside our communities. This is the critical conversation that Canada and Indigenous peoples must have because it is centred on land, and, therefore, it is one of the most important books on Indigenous politics I’ve ever read.”
– Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back
“For me, Unsettling Canada is the most recent addition to a relatively short list of resurgent, grassroots contributions to Indigenous decolonization. Written by one of our most respected and incisive leaders and thinkers, this is a must-read for anyone serious about radically transforming the colonial relationship between Indigenous nations and the Canadian state.”
– Glen Coulthard, University of British Columbia, author of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition

  •  May 28th, 2015, 6:30pm–8:00pm
  •  Vancouver Public Library - Central Location (350 West Georgia Street), Unceded Coast Salish territories, Vancouver, BC, Canada (map)

  • May 21st, 2015, 2:00pm–4:00pm
  •  Athabasca Hall, Room 227 University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada (map)


  • Paperback / softback, 320 pages
  • ISBN 9781771131766
  • Published April 2015