One of our recommended books for 2020 is In My Own Moccasins by Helen Knott

IN MY OWN MOCCASINS

A Memoir of Resilience


A reflection on what can be said about addiction, trauma, and the pains of sexual violence.

Helen Knott, a highly accomplished Indigenous woman, seems to have it all. But in her memoir, she offers a different perspective. In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.

With gripping moments of withdrawal, times of spiritual awareness, and historical insights going back to the signing of Treaty 8 by her great-great grandfather,

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A reflection on what can be said about addiction, trauma, and the pains of sexual violence.

Helen Knott, a highly accomplished Indigenous woman, seems to have it all. But in her memoir, she offers a different perspective. In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.

With gripping moments of withdrawal, times of spiritual awareness, and historical insights going back to the signing of Treaty 8 by her great-great grandfather, Chief Bigfoot, her journey exposes the legacy of colonialism, while reclaiming her spirit.

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  • NYU Press
  • Hardcover
  • August 2019
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780889776449

Buy the Book

$19.95

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About Helen Knott

Helen Knott is the author of In My Own MoccasinsHelen Knott is a Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw, and mixed Euro-descent woman living in Fort St. John, British Columbia. She has worked with Amnesty International on a campaign to protect her traditional territory from a hydroelectric dam, was featured by the Nobel Justice Women’s Initiative in 2016 as one of sixteen global female change makers, and is a poet.

Praise

Longlisted for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize

“An incredibly forceful and moving book, the embodiment of what it means to reconcile, both with oneself and with others.” Quill & Quire

“Proclaims healing a revolutionary act.”Booklist

“Heartfelt, heartbreaking, triumphant and raw, In My Own Moccasins is a must-read for anyone who’s ever felt lost in their life… Actually, it’s a must-read for anyone who appreciates stories of struggle, redemption and healing. Knott’s writing is confident, clear, powerful and inspiring.” —Jowita Bydlowska, author of Guy: A Novel and Drunk Mom

“Helen Knott speaks truth to the experience of Indigenous women living through the violence of colonized spaces and she does so with grace, beauty and a ferocity that makes me feel so proud.” —Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of This Accident of Being Lost

“Helen writes beautifully and painfully, about her own life and the lives of many of our sisters. A strong, gentle voice removing the colonial blanket and exposing truth.” —Maria Campbell, author of Halfbreed

“An incredible debut that documents how trauma and addiction can be turned into healing and love. I am in awe of Helen Knott and her courage. I am a fan for life. Wow.” —Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed

Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever experienced addiction yourself or have had a loved one or close relative experience it? If so, what were the impacts of it within the family?

2. Did In My Own Moccasins (IMOM) give you insight into what may lead to addiction? If so, what?

3. In IMOM the author writes about treaty signing times relative to the people and territory she comes from, are you aware of what traditional territory you live in? Do you think it is important to know this information, why or why not?

4. The writer, Helen, makes reference to the region “raining men” because of a high male to female ratio due to oil and gas extractive work in the area. What issues do you think could arise from living in an area like this?

5. Healing from sexual violence is a core theme within the book and in the counseling session where the author speaks about her most recent rape, she mentions that she is pulling the story out of her body and that the body remembers. Physical responses happen when she recalls the story and eventually, she is cradling herself in the chair. Do you believe that the body holds memories, positive or negative? What do you think causes the body to respond to memory? Do you think that memories that cue heightened physical responses could impact long term health?

6. How does race factor into the experiences (sexual violence, addiction, oppression) that Helen describes?

7. There were many instances of how families, communities and society silence women and girls when it comes to speaking out about sexual violence – which instances stood out for you?

8. There was a depiction of struggling to choose between Christianity and traditional spiritual practices within IMOM which is sometimes still a lively issue in Indigenous communities. Have you experienced spiritual oppression in your life before? If so, how did you navigate through that?

9. Spirituality was a strong element to Helen’s healing and most Indigenous people see individuals being composed of the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects – meaning all four areas need to be nourished and balanced for wellness. Do you believe that the spiritual aspect of individuals needs to be addressed when recovering from addiction or trauma or simply in the pursuit of wellness?

10. Helen writes about being in a social studies class where her friend Amanda makes a prejudiced remark about Treaty signing and Indigenous people. Were you taught about local Indigenous colonial and settler relations in school from narratives of both sides of the relationship? If so, what? If not, what kind of impact do you think that has?