St. Michael's Residential School

By Dan Rubenstein & Nancy Dyson

St. Michael's Residential School
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In 1970, Nancy Dyson and Dan Rubenstein were hired as childcare workers at the Alert Bay Student Residence (known as St. Michael’s Indian Residential School) on northern Vancouver Island. Shocked when Indigenous children are forcibly taken from their families, punished for ... Read more


Overview

In 1970, Nancy Dyson and Dan Rubenstein were hired as childcare workers at the Alert Bay Student Residence (known as St. Michael’s Indian Residential School) on northern Vancouver Island. Shocked when Indigenous children are forcibly taken from their families, punished for speaking their First Nations languages, 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 — told by two 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.

Dan Rubenstein

Dan Rubenstein’s interest in runaway slaves began when he attended a school in an old house which had been part of the Underground Railroad. Dan is a geographer, environmentalist and writer. Dan makes his home in Gloucester, Ontario.

Nancy Dyson

Nancy Dyson studied international development at Vassar College and was deeply concerned about issues of inequality. Later she became an early childhood educator with a special interest in children’s literature. Nancy makes her home in Gloucester, Ontario.

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