Cover: One Second at a Time: My Story of Pain and Reclamation, by Diane Morrisseau, with Elisabeth Brannigan. Photo: an older Indigenous woman wearing a floral shirt, looking past the camera.
198 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Release Date:24 May 2024

One Second at a Time

My Story of Pain and Reclamation

UBC Press, Purich Books

For almost two decades, Diane Morrisseau was chained to a brutal husband who abused not only her, but their children. By threatening Diane with their death and hers should she ever try to leave, he ensured that she would continue to endure his cruelty.

Despite this, Diane found the strength to walk away. This book is the story of how she did so, and how she rebuilt a life beyond her abuser. Through Al-Anon, Anishinabe traditional healing ceremonies, counselling, and care for others, Diane found a new path illuminated by compassion and purpose.

Diane Morrisseau recounts her traumatic history with one aim: to help other victims of violence know they are not alone, and that escape is possible. The author’s entire career, and this book, testify to her desire to extend to others the hope that eluded her in the depths of her desperate circumstances.

Devastatingly frank about the abuse she suffered, the mothering her children missed because of it, and the systems that allowed it all to happen, Diane today has reconciled the past with a present where she continues to live out the values that matter to her most.

The story of an Ojibway-Anishinabe woman who, against incredible odds, rescued herself and her children from a life of brutal beatings, sexual servitude, and almost unimaginable hardship.

A courageous and harrowing story. Morrisseau uses her painful personal journey to frame the horrific history of residential schools. Evocative and illuminating. Angela Sterritt, author of Unbroken: My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls
One Second at a Time is, in many ways, a difficult story to read – but it is one that needs to be told. Readers will learn about a courageous woman and the circumstances that enabled an abusive relationship, and hear her message for how to recognize the situation and take steps toward a better life. Don McCaskill, co-author of In the Words of the Elders
A fervent call to action, an impassioned plea for compassion and empathy, and a formidable rallying cry that seeks to instigate transformation [… One Second at a Time] serves as a bridge, seeking to connect human souls through shared understanding and collective responsibility. From the foreword by Marlyn Bennett
Raw and brutally honest. Morrisseau bravely shares the details of her life with a violent man. Validating and inspiring, her story affirms the complicated healing journey of abuse survivors. It’s a must read for anyone working in the field of gender-based violence. Kendra Nixon, director of Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse (RESOLVE)
Diane Morrisseau has taken us into her confidence with her story, allowing us to truly understand as a society how the relationship between Indigenous people and settlers has created immense hardships for Indigenous people, families, and communities. Marion Maar, professor, Northern Ontario School of Medicine University

Diane Morrisseau is a proud Anishinabe woman from Sagkeeng First Nation. She is a mother and a grandmother and is looked up to by many in the community as a respected Elder, dedicated to helping others. She began her career in Health Sciences by advocating passionately for First Nations patients. In the early eighties, Diane returned to school for diplomas in addictions and social work. During her employment as a youth worker, she helped formerly homeless, vulnerable, and at-risk youth who had grown up in the child welfare system. Diane worked as a counsellor for several treatment centres until her retirement in 2011. She continues to be asked to counsel clients, speak at events, facilitate sharing and healing circles, and participate in traditional ceremonies. She also continues to work in the field of domestic violence in an abuse shelter as a counsellor to First Nations women and their children. For the past thirty-five years, Diane has dedicated herself to the well-being of Anishinabe women, children, and men. She resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Elisabeth Brannigan is a mother and elementary school teacher. She holds a bachelor of arts in Indigenous studies and a bachelor of education. Elisabeth began her career teaching at Sagkeeng Mino Pimatiziwin Treatment Centre (now the Mikaaming Mino Pimatiziwin Healing Lodge) in Sagkeeng First Nation. Inspired by Diane’s story of resilience and strength, Elisabeth was determined to help Diane achieve her vision of seeing her story written and published for the world to read. It has been her great honour to work with Diane in telling her story. Elisabeth lives with her husband and children in Toronto, Ontario.

Foreword: A Tapestry of Truths / Marlyn Bennett



A Note on the Text

1 A Perfect Home

2 Day School

3 Posting of the Bands

4 Mrs. Olson

5 Holes in the Walls

6 Breakdown

7 Scars

8 Breaking Free

9 Seeing the Trees

10 Freedom at Last


About the Authors

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