Author, advocate at odds over new book on NS Home for Colored Children
“The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children: The Hurt, the Hope, the Healing,” has been called the first book to detail the unsettling experiences young people faced while living as students at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.
The author, Wanda Taylor, says she interviewed former residents of the home to get their personal experiences, composing a book that intends to shed light on the dark side of the home and the alleged physical, mental and sexual abuse many children who lived there faced.
But the book isn’t sitting well with everyone.
“You cannot use people and their stories to sensationalize your story,” Tony Smith told Global News Friday. “That’s what I’m upset about.”
Smith was one of the first people to come forward and speak about the abuse at the home. He was also the lead plaintiff on a multi-million dollar lawsuit awarded to former residents last summer.
He has major concerns about how the new book will affect a public inquiry into the home.
“I can tell you right now, there’s a number of people that don’t want to speak at the public inquiry because they feel they can be taken advantage of in the same way.”
Smith is worried some people may not want to come forward because of the book, and says many people in the book didn’t consent to having their stories shared in a book.
“It’s profiteering off of what we’re doing and at the same time, your doing further harm,” he said.
Two sided story
The author understands Smith is upset, but sees things differently.
Taylor says she did interview some former residents of the home, but says she also relied on both government and court documents when writing her non-fiction book.
“I can understand if someone is upset if, you know, things that have been public record are in the book,” Taylor told Global News.
“But if something is public record, it’s public record and anyone can use it.”
Taylor says she’s been working on the book for the last four years, and says the book is another way for residents to speak about what happened inside the walls of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children.
“By making it seem negative that the book has come out and that their stories are in there, to them, it would feel like they’ve done something wrong and they haven’t,” she said.
Taylor also disputes claims her book will hinder an inquiry for former residents.
“It’s the inquiry that they [former residents] feel is victimizing them, because they feel they have to go forward and tell their story all over again to strangers,” said Taylor.
As for Smith, he wonders why the book is being released now, and what good it will serve.
“What is the purpose? If the purpose that I read in the book is to help people to find their voices as far as former residents…you’re late. This is how we got here, because of the former residents.”
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