Within the opening pages of “In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience,” Helen Knott, an Indigenous poet and activist, makes it clear that her offering is not to educate or inform people about issues of violence against Indigenous women or colonialism.
“I want this book for women who have similar stories, who’ve been through sexual violence and have had a hard time healing,” Knott says. “I know that there are so many women who live with those stories up until their old age and never tell anybody. And I know that too because people have reached out to me, thinking that they were the only ones.”
Released in 2019 and winner of the Saskatchewan Indigenous Peoples’ Publishing Award 2020, Knott’s author debut is an unflinching recount of her experiences and struggles with sexual violence and addiction. She starts in a physical and mental state of withdrawal, battling the choice to keep fighting for her life or disappear and succumb to the violence. With the help of Indigenous women in her life and the cultural traditions they carry, she unfolds her a journey back to herself and a pathway toward healing.
“Being in a state where I didn’t see those good parts anymore, I could go down this road kind of written out like a path of this colonial violence or I could choose to fight and live,” Knott recalls. “And I made that choice.”
Listen: Helen Knott performs her poem “Breathe.”
Knott’s activism works deeply to show the connections between violence against Indigenous women and the violence being done to the environment of her home in British Columbia. Watch her video below.