Dan Rubenstein and Nancy Dyson have co-authored two books, to date, both dealing with issues of social justice, one about slavery and the other about the tragic legacy of Canada’s residential schools.
St. Michael’s Residential School: Lament and Legacy, Dan and Nancy’s second book, is a moving narrative about their experience in a residential school. In 1970, they were hired as childcare workers at the Alert Bay Student Residence (formerly St. Michael’s Indian Residential School) off northern Vancouver Island. Shocked when Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families, punished for speaking their language, fed substandard food and severely disciplined for minor offences, Dan and Nancy questioned the way the school was run with its underlying missionary philosophy. When a delegation from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs visited St. Michael’s, the couple presented a long list of concerns. The next day, they were dismissed by the administrator of the school. Forty-five years later, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports were released in Ottawa. The raw grief and anger of residential school survivors were palpable and the authors’ troubling memories of St. Michael’s resurfaced. Dan called Reconciliation Canada, and Chief Dr. Robert Joseph encouraged the couple to share their story with today’s Canadians.
St. Michael’s Residential School: Lament and Legacy is one of the few narratives told by childcare workers who witnessed on a daily basis the degradation of Indigenous children. Their account will help to ensure that what went on within the residential schools will be neither forgotten nor denied. The book will be published in September of 2020 by Ronsdale Press.
Their first book, Railroad of Courage, is youth fiction based on the history of slavery and the Underground Railroad. The story of Rebecca, a twelve-year old, fleeing slavery and making her way to Canada with Harriet Tubman has received enthusiastic reviews by young readers and some not-so-young readers. In 2018, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre chose the story for as one of the Best Books for Kids and Teens.