Abandonment, loss, instability, self-reliance, persistence, and fierce beauty all coexist in this compelling collection of stories of ten women who journey from victims of the child welfare system to survivors, and beyond. 

In these deeply person stories- compiled by Anne Mahon after extensive interviews- the women look back through the lens of their lived experience to contribute to changing the narratives of how people who grew up in the child welfare system see themselves and how society sees them. 

They also illustrate the direct and multi-faceted relationships between residential schools, the breakdown of Indigenous families, the perpetuated systemic racism of the child welfare system and oppression throughout other societal systems. Despite facing endless challenges, oppression, and trauma these women discover their power through creativity, advocacy, cultural exploration, self-awareness, education, motherhood, and extreme empathy.

Generously shared and powerfully told, these stories will educate and create change. 

All author sales of the book Overcome are being donated to support youth in care and transitioning to adulthood through Voices: Manitoba’s Youth in Care Network

All photography for Overcome by Andrew Mahon Photography 

Cover art for Overcome from the painting titled My Tears Turn Into Something Beautiful by book participant Jackie Traverse.

  1. What were your expectations before reading this book? How are the stories similar or different to those expectations?
  2. Which stories challenged you or surprised you? Which stories inspired you the most?
  3. Do you know anyone who has been in the child welfare system? Do you know any foster parents? Do you recognize any of their experiences in the stories you’ve read?
  4. How do the stories in this book differ from the stories you have seen in media about the child welfare system?
  5. What are your thoughts about the statistics listed at the beginning of the book?
  6. It has been said that people survive the child welfare system. How do you feel about this statement?
  7. What personal attributes and/or external supports helped the participants overcome the trauma they experienced and their time in the child welfare system?
  8. Why do you think there are a disproportionate number of Indigenous children in the child welfare system?
  9. Many of the participant’s parents were residential school survivors. Did this surprise you? What is the relationship between residential schools and the child welfare system?
  10. Many participants experienced violence early in their lives. Can cycles of violence be broken? If so, how?
  11. Were you aware of Birth Alerts before reading this book? What are your thoughts on them?
  12. What could be done to support parents before the children are removed from their home? Have you heard of any new ideas to keep children in their homes with their families?
  13. If your children needed to be taken into care, what would be your expectations of the child welfare system?