Secwepemc-Ktunaxa writer Vera Manuel dies at 61

Family and friends of Vera Manuel are mourning the death of the Vancouver-based Secwepemc-Ktunaxa playwright, poet, and storyteller.

On January 22, she died in Vancouver General Hospital at the age of 61.

Manuel’s many works include The Strength of Indian Women, a play about residential-school life.

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

A wake and funeral were held earlier this week in the community of Neskonlith, near Chase.

Her family sent the following statement to the Straight:

Vera Manuel passed away last week, leaving an important legacy as writer, poet, playwright, storyteller and as someone dedicated to using her cultural knowledge in the healing of Aboriginal people.

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 most recently 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.