The University of Winnipeg



‘Determined to break cycles’: New book tackles racism and reconciliation

Valley of the Birdtail book cover.

University of Winnipeg alumna Maureen Twovoice (Binesi Ikwe) has partnered with authors Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson (Amo Binashii) in their recently published book, Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town and the Road to Reconciliation.

This book reminds me of the importance of history. And how important it is to write with a community, instead of about them.

Maureen Twovoice

The book tells the story of the 150-year relationship between the town of Rossburn and the Waywayseecappo First Nation, neighbouring communities in Manitoba, to better understand the larger relationship between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians and to show a path forward.

Twovoice, a former UWinnipeg student in Indigenous Studies (B.A. ‘16) and Indigenous Governance (M.A. ‘22), wrote the Afterword for the book, in which she reflects on trauma and resilience among Anishinaabe people. 

“I didn’t completely understand all the intergenerational cycles of trauma I had been handed until I was in university,” Twovoice says. “When I decided to share my story in this book, I wondered, ‘Why would my story be so important, as opposed to others who may have had it way worse than myself or were more successful?’ But I think I am helping an audience understand the reality for some Anishinaabe living on reserve, in a family which has been deeply impacted by Indian residential schools. With whatever I had, I was determined to break cycles.” 

Valley of the Birdtail was published on August 30, contributing to a national conversation about racism and reconciliation.

When writing the book, the authors and Twovoice sought to set an example for future storytellers and researchers on how to work truly collaboratively.

“Not only am I a character in the book, but I was given the opportunity to write the Afterword and give feedback on draft chapters,” Twovoice says. “This book reminds me of the importance of history. And how important it is to write with a community, instead of about them.”

To download or order a copy of Valley of the Birdtail, visit the HarperCollins publishing website. A book launch will be held at McNally Robinson at 7 pm on September 13, 2022.