Jennifer’s life has demonstrated her passion for justice and racial equality. She has experienced first-hand where racism can lead.
“Looking back, it has made me more sensitive to the pain of others. It has driven my creativity.”
Jennifer has a B.Sc. (Agric) from the University of the West Indies. Before coming to Canada in 1979, she worked in medical research at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, England. She lives on a small farm in Stouffville, Ontario and knows how to milk a cow by hand, make cheese, butter and yogurt. When her children were young, Jennifer was a stay-at-home mom, feeding her family off the land. These days she buys food from the store but is still able to indulge her life-long love affair with horses, as well as write books for young people, hoping to make the world a better place by inspiring the next generation of young activists.
Award-winning Canadian author and playwright Jennifer Dance has a passion for justice and equality.
Her Civil Rights era musical, DANDELIONS IN THE WIND, addresses black-white racism and is based in part on her own life story.
The three books of her White Feather Collection – RED WOLF, PAINT and HAWK address the issue of racism, both past and present, against Indigenous people in North America. These novels are fiction, but they present the truth in a way that creates compassion and understanding, joining the dots between the colonial policies of the past and the rift of mistrust that still exists. They open the door to reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem, it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.”
These words spoken by Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, compel us ALL to become involved with reconciliation. But as non-natives how can we reconcile, or make something right, if we don’t know what’s wrong?
Armed with the truth, Jennifer believes that today’s youth will stand up for justice and equality, and lead us to reconciliation.
Most Canadians still don’t know that 150,000 children as young as 4 were taken from their homes and sent hundreds or even thousands of miles away, to Indian Residential Schools. With my books and my talks, I aim to open eyes and hearts.
Using my novel Red Wolf as a guide, I show how the arrival of settlers set the stage for the Indian Act and the Residential School System as well as for the elimination of wolves. Along with archival photographs of residential school children and shocking facts about Canada’s hidden history, I explain why I wrote this story, why the subject touches me so deeply.
Using the novel Hawk, I show how these Colonial issues still affect the lives of Indigenous people today, as well as the environment. With stunning photos from my research trip to the Alberta Oil Sands, I tell you the truth about what is happening up there.
I can gear my presentation toward young people, toward churches grappling with their historic involvement, or anyone wanting to understand more about Canada’s racist history and how it continues to shape where we are today.
I give a 50-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by a 10-minute question period.
Jennifer Dance was awarded the 2016 Ontario Senior Achievement Award, for making a significant contribution through her writing and presentations in the schools and community. Jennifer was also honoured to be nominated as a Woman of Excellence in the J.S. Woodsworth Awards for Human Rights and Equity.
During Black History month of 2017, Jennifer was thrilled to bring her civil rights era musical to the Toronto Stage. It is her dream to see DANDELIONS IN THE WIND used across Canada as part of school teaching on anti-racism.
In the late 1800s, both wolves and Native people are being forced from the land. Starving and lonely, an orphaned timber wolf is befriended by a boy named Red Wolf. But under the Indian Act, Red Wolf is forced to attend residential school far from the life he knows. And the wolf is alone once more. Courage, love and fate reunite the pair, and they embark on a perilous journey home. But with winter closing in, will they survive, and if they do, what will they find?
As a cross-country runner, Adam aims to win gold in the upcoming provincial championship. But when he is diagnosed with leukemia, he finds himself in a different race, one that he can’t afford to lose. He reclaims the name Hawk, given to him by his grandfather, and begins to fight, for his life and for the land of his ancestors and the creatures that inhabit it. With a little help from his grandfather and his friends, he might just succeed.
It’s the late 1800s. A Lakota boy finds an orphaned mustang foal and brings her back to his family’s camp. Naming her Paint for her black-and-white markings, boy and horse soon become inseparable. Together they learn to hunt buffalo, their fear of the massive beasts tempered by a growing trust in each other. When the U.S. Cavalry attacks the camp, the pair is forced onto separate paths. Paint’s fate becomes entwined with that of settlers who bring irreversible change to the grassland, setting the stage for environmental disaster. Bought and sold several times, Paint finally finds a home with English pioneers on the Canadian Prairie. With a great dust storm looming on the horizon, man and horse will again need to work together if they hope to survive