When Nancy Dyson and her husband, Dan Rubenstein, were hired as childcare workers at St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in 1970, they witnessed racism and the degradation of Indigenous children first-hand.
St. Michael’s was closed in 1974 and the authors naively assumed that the tragic impact of the school had ended. But with the tabling of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports in 2015, they saw the survivors’ grief and anger and realized that the trauma of the schools will last for generations. Memories of their time of St. Michael’s overwhelmed them. With encouragement from Indigenous leaders, Nancy wrote the narrative of their experience while Dan wrote about the history of residential schools and the underlying beliefs of the churches and the government in trying to eradicate Indigenous families, culture and language.
Before their retirement, Nancy was an early childhood educator and Dan an auditor with the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. Both wrote professional articles and books but greatly enjoyed telling stories, first to their children and then to their grand-children. When Nancy was asked what it is like to co-author books, she said it is a bit like parallel parking. Forward and back until it’s just right!
Dan and Nancy feel honoured to have shared dialogue with Indigenous leaders like Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, ambassador for Reconciliation Canada.