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Becoming a Matriarch
Helen Knott
Doubleday Canada / Hardcover / Sep 2023
9780385697774 (ISBN-10: 0385697775)
Indigenous Peoples / Biography and Memoir
price: $32.00
216 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)


When matriarchs begin to disappear, there is a choice to either step into the places they left behind, or to craft a new space.

Helen Knott’s debut memoir, In My Own Moccasins, wowed reviewers, award juries, and readers alike with its profoundly honest and moving account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, resilience, and survival. Now, in her highly anticipated second book, Knott returns with a chronicle of grief, love, and legacy.

Having lost both her mom and grandmother in just over six months, forced to navigate the fine lines between matriarchy, martyrdom, and codependency, Knott realizes she must let go, not just of the women who raised her, but of the woman she thought she was.

Woven into the pages are themes of mourning, sobriety through loss, and generational dreaming. Becoming a Matriarch is charted with poetic insights, sass, humour, and heart, taking the reader over the rivers and mountains of Dane Zaa territory in Northeastern British Columbia, along the cobbled streets of Antigua, Guatemala, and straight to the heart of what matriarchy truly means. This is a journey through pain, on the way to becoming.


“Profoundly moving. . . . With wit and courage, Knott takes the reader along her journey of self-discovery from the depths of loss and grief to rise as a matriarch herself.” —Indiginews

“Becoming a Matriarch is about the work of carving out a ‘beautiful space’ in a life where freedom and love can flourish. Helen Knott tells the story of the women in her family pushing up against the boundaries of gender, race, and class and, in so doing, Knott shows us that another way of living is possible. Her sentences are poetic and dazzling; they are little anchors the grieving can fasten themselves to—readers will surely return to them again and again.” —Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of A Minor Chorus

“In enchantingly vivid language and with a compelling narrative arc, Helen Knott’s new masterpiece is a memoir of grief and joy, loss and rediscovery, flight and return and, above all, a paean to the beautiful, eternal, soothing and all-encompassing power of matriarchy.” —Gabor Maté MD, author of The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture

“Knott lays out that which all Indigenous women know and feel on a cellular level—we are only here because of the women, the matriarchs, the warriors, the survivors, the courageous ones, the fierce ones, the loving ones who came before us. Beautifully, tenderly Knott maps out for the reader the intrinsic way Indigenous women lift up, celebrate and support one another. Even when no one else does. We always have each other. We see each other. We are each other’s medicine. And there is no greater gift. These are the stories Indigenous women must tell—the journeys, reclamation and place of matriarchs. Present in Knott’s words are paths to reconciliation for everyone.” —Nahanni Fontaine, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba

“Becoming a Matriarch is a vivid, lyrical exploration of womanhood, loss, grief, and eventually, self-love, braided together with radiance and wisdom. Knott brilliantly uses memory as a tool for self-exploration and growth. The land, dreams and body are in constant communication: ‘My body knows the mountains and rivers and berry bushes that it comes from.’ Throughout the book you can’t help but ask yourself, what does it mean to come from strong women and still allow yourself space to be loved? Becoming a Matriarch teaches us that joy can exist inside the cracks of the most tumultuous times in our lives and love can still bloom if we let it.” —Chelene Knight, author of Dear Current Occupant and Junie

“Becoming a Matriarch is a feast of remarkable, colourful, deep and profoundly raw storytelling. Helen Knott is one of the greatest Indigenous literary artists of our time.” —Brandi Morin, author of Our Voice of Fire: A Memoir of a Warrior Rising

Praise for In My Own Moccasins

"The best kind of memoir: clear-eyed, generous, and glorious. . . . Bear witness to the emergence of one of the most powerful voices of her generation." —Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster and Monkey Beach (from the foreword)

"Intelligent, courageous, emotionally searing. " —Globe and Mail

"Proclaims healing a revolutionary act. " —Booklist

"An incredibly forceful and moving book, the embodiment of what it means to reconcile, both with oneself and with others. " —Quill & Quire

“Helen Knott speaks truth to the experience of Indigenous women living through the violence of colonized spaces and she does so with grace, beauty and a ferocity that makes me feel so proud.” —Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies

“Helen writes beautifully and painfully, about her own life and the lives of many of our sisters. A strong, gentle voice removing the colonial blanket and exposing truth.” —Maria Campbell, author of Halfbreed

“An incredible debut that documents how trauma and addiction can be turned into healing and love. I am in awe of Helen Knott and her courage. I am a fan for life. Wow.” —Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed

“Heartfelt, heartbreaking, triumphant and raw, In My Own Moccasins is a must-read for anyone who's ever felt lost in their life. . . Actually, it's a must-read for anyone who appreciates stories of struggle, redemption and healing. Knott’s writing is confident, clear, powerful and inspiring.” —Jowita Bydlowska, author of Guy: A Novel and Drunk Mom

“Powerful, filled with emotion.” —Carol Daniels, author of Bearskin Diary and Hiraeth

"A beautiful rendering of how recovery for our peoples is inevitably about reconnecting with Indigenous identities, lands, cultural and healing practices." —Kim Anderson, author of Reconstructing Native Womenhood

About the Author:

Helen Knott is a Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw, Métis, and mixed Euro-descent woman from Prophet River First Nations, and lives in Fort St. John, British Columbia. In 2016 Helen was one of sixteen global change makers featured by the Nobel Women's Initiative for being committed to ending gender-based violence. Helen was selected as a 2019 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Author. Her debut memoir, In My Own Moccasins (University of Regina Press, 2019), was a national bestseller, longlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, and won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Indigenous Peoples' Publishing.

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