Skip to content

Angela Sterritt to discuss debut book on MMIWG at West Van library

A mix of memoir and journalism, Unbroken focuses on the women who have gone missing or been murdered on B.C.’s infamous Highway of Tears
Angela Sterritt's debut book Unbroken, a mix of memoir and journalism, looks into the missing and murdered Indigenous women in B.C. | West Vancouver Memorial Library

Part memoir, part investigative report, the debut book to come from journalist Angela Sterritt offers a dual insight into a topic that so few truly comprehend – the lives and cases of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

Unbroken: My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls, fuses her own story of a youth spent living homeless in Vancouver’s downtown neighbourhoods with stories of the innumerable missing and murdered women she has uncovered through her own journalism.

Sterritt, from the Gitanmaax community of the Gitxsan Nation, said she hopes the book will “build compassion and hopefully build some semblance of justice” for the family members of those women, all of whom she worked with “every step of the way” to put together the book.

“It’s been a very collaborative process rather than an extractive process,” she said.

“I am an Indigenous woman who has had similar experiences, but the focus here for me is about the women,” she said.

“The indigenous women and girls whose family members are still fighting for justice, still searching for their missing loved one or still looking for answers or for justice. The murders that are unsolved.”

She talks of 16-year-old Ramona, who left home for a dance one summer’s evening in 1994 but never returned, and the still unsolved 1969 murder of Gloria Levina Moody. She talks of the diligence and sometimes perpetration of the police officers, healthcare professionals, judges and the media.

Yet she also touches on the rich, vibrant, positive aspects of Indigenous history, of the personalities and lives and hobbies of the women and girls, to ensure that they will not be defined by the horrifying circumstances that led to their inclusion in the book.

The importance of reporting on Indigenous history and matters in their entirety is a topic she said she will touch on this Friday, when she sits down for a conversation on the book at the West Vancouver Memorial Library.

The author will be joined by fellow journalist Candis Callison for a discussion on the book’s contents, followed by a Q&A with the audience – more than 100 attendees have already registered – and a book signing.

Sterritt said, even now, there are certainly still discrepancies in the way that the media reports stories about Indigenous people, and there are still concerns family members have about the discrepancy in the way that missing Indigenous women’s cases are handled.

Many journalists have an approach where they focus solely on how “horrible and dark and filled with despair” Indigenous people are, she said, without focusing on the resilience, the bravery and the vigour.

“We as Indigenous people have been here for 10,000 years, and a lot happened before the colonials came here, and extracted and put children in residential school, and continue to dispossess us of our lands, and continue to extract from us, or appropriate our cultures,” she said.

“That is what my book is about, amplifying who indigenous people are and all of their dimensions, not just their trauma. It’s about shining a light and holding institutions to account, but it’s also about witnessing Indigenous people from a strengths-based Indigenous lens, not a colonial, extractive and trauma lens.”

With the book’s focus on the "strengths, courage, creativity and generosity of Indigenous people,” Sterritt said she hopes the audience will come away from the evening educated and enlightened.

It will be a “very culturally rich and healing conversation,” she said, one filled with reciprocity and decolonization, and healing.

“I have absolutely no doubts that it’s going to be fantastic.”

An Evening with Angela Sterritt hosted by Candis Callison

Where: West Vancouver Memorial Library 

When: Friday, June 16, 7 p.m.-8:15 p.m.

Cost: Free, registration required. Details here.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

[email protected]