In 1970, the authors, Nancy Dyson and Dan Rubenstein, 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 native 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, which were ignored. The next day they were dismissed by the administrator of the school. Some years later, in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports were released. 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 a moving narrative — one of the few told by caregivers who experienced on a daily basis the degradation of Indigenous children. Their account will help to ensure that what went on in the Residential Schools is neither forgotten nor denied. To be published September 2020 by:
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This story for youth begins when Rebecca, a twelve-year-old slave in South Carolina, hears that Grower Brown plans to sell her father to another grower. Unwilling to accept the idea of slavery any longer, she shocks her parents by declaring that she will run away, with or without them. Despite their fear, they agree to go with her on the Underground Railroad to Canada. They are led by the famous Harriet Tubman, also known as Moses, the tiny but fiercely courageous black woman whom Rebecca comes to love. On their journey north, Rebecca and her family rely on the bravery of freed blacks and learn to trust white abolitionists. Grower Brown’s daughter, Miss Clarissa, ventures into the Bayou of Death to warn them of imminent capture. A Canadian ornithologist, Alexander Ross, known as “the Birdman,” stumbles upon the family in Tennessee and helps them make their way north on the Mississippi River. The family hides in a hearse, travels on a steamboat, and crosses Illinois by pumping hand carts on a rail line. Railroad of Courage offers young readers a fast-paced story of adventure. With the introduction of historical figures, the novel illustrates the injustice of slavery and the moral imagination of runaways and those who helped them to freedom.
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