“Listen to their words so you can come to see these women for who they feel they are, not as statistics or storylines that reinforce the separations between us—separations that keep us from building true relationships. ”
-from the Introduction

Table of contents

ix Acknowledgements
xi Introduction
3 Amber
23 Bev
39 Chantel
59 Jazmyne
77 Faith
95 Jorgina
115 Photograph Captions
123 Bibliography


Amber, Bev, Chantel, Jazmyne, Faith, and Jorgina are six Indigenous women previously involved in street gangs or the street lifestyle in Saskatoon, Regina, and Calgary. In collaboration with Indigenous Studies scholar Robert Henry (Métis), they share their stories using photovoice, a process where participants are understood to be the experts of their own experiences. Each photograph in the book was selected and placed in order to show how the authors have changed with their experiences. Following their photographs, the authors each share a narrative that begins with their earliest memory and continues to the present. Throughout, these women show us the meaning of survivance, a process of resistance, resurgence, and growth.


  • Short-listed, Scholarly & Academic Book of the Year | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta 2022
  • Short-listed, Saskatchewan Book Awards | University of Saskatchewan, President’s Office, Non-Fiction Award 2022


"The stories of these six women provide a telling tale of how Canada’s colonial systems have failed Indigenous women.... Their ‘survivance’ is a testament to the resilience and strength of Indigenous women. I would highly recommend this book to women’s groups, organizations that deal with high-risk groups, ... law enforcement, educators, and social workers." Chevi Rabbit, The Toronto Star, November 24, 2021 [Article at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/11/24/book-by-indigenous-women-offers-insight-into-canadian-street-gangs.html]

"The narratives carry themes of trauma, violence, exclusion, removal through child welfare systems, and how Indigenous women feel they are perceived in street spaces and the community at large. Their stories point to the difficulties they faced with regard to policies, but also the ways they tried to better themselves and resist the ideas of being erased and taken—which gives rise to the word 'survivance.'" Thia James, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, December 2, 2021 [Full article at https://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/researcher-helps-women-share-first-person-reality-of-gang-lifestyle]

"Indigenous Women and Street Gangs explores, in their own words, the women’s interactions with various systems—such as the education system, the child welfare system, and policing and the justice system—as well as the impacts of settler-colonialism, racism and intergenerational trauma on their lives. The women describe what ultimately led them to leave the street gangs and street lifestyles." Shannon Boklaschuk, University of Saskatchewan [Full article at https://artsandscience.usask.ca/news/articles/6986/New_book_co_authored_by_USask_researcher_shares_stories_of_w]

“They wanted individuals to begin to understand and see them as people, not as files or gang members but as individuals who have had to go through some more difficult things than others.” Robert Henry interviewed by Derek Craddock for Prince Albert's 101.5 Beach Radio [https://www.beachradiopa.ca/2021/10/28/listen-p-a-author-portrays-experiences-of-indigenous-women-and-gangs-in-new-book/]

"Many non-Indigenous Canadians will not understand what it's like to be an Indigenous woman born into poverty within a country that systematically discriminates against them based on the color of their skin tone, socioeconomic background, cultural identity, or ethnic background... They might never understand the root causes that led some Indigenous populations to live on the streets. That's what this book offers readers, a glimpse into the lived experiences of Indigenous women who were involved in street gangs and how they liberated themselves from the harsh lifestyle." Chevi Rabbit, Alberta Native News, November 2021