The Strength of Women

1 February 2012

The Strength of Women, Ahkameyimowak
by Priscilla Settee
Published by Coteau Books
Reviewed by Donna Gudjonson
$19.95 ISBN 13:9781550504569

Author Priscilla Settee is an Aboriginal scholar, educator, writer, and activist in Saskatchewan. In her book The Strength of Women she unfolds a collection of spellbinding stories told by fifteen Aboriginal women who have all struggled through great adversity to become unsung heroes, role models, activists, educators, artists and spiritual healers.

The stories are presented in five categories: Beginnings, Work, Art, Spirit and Community. Though each story is unique there are underlying threads of injustice, racism, abuse, sexism and hardship seasoned with happier memories and anecdotes. As the book flows on we see how each woman’s path is shaped by her experiences. I found the first stories to be the most enlightening yet sorrowful to read but I found myself drawn deeply into each woman’s life and because it is written in her own voice and dialect it was like hearing her tell the story in person.

The women spoke of how racism, poverty, violence and substance abuse affected their own families and communities. Each storyteller speaks of a personal struggle and a turning point when an opportunity presented itself to become educated and to find work that helped preserve Aboriginal Culture and above all to find healing for self and others. All had mentors that they were grateful to for helping them find their way.

“Ahkameyimowak is a Cree word and embodies the strength that drives women to survive, flourish and work for change within their communities, often using minimal resources to challenge oppressive structures and to create powerful alternatives in the arts, in education and in the workplace.”(From The Strength of Women by Priscilla Settee) This Saskatchewan author has created a thought-provoking page turner which is a must-read for women of all beginnings.


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