The Mary C. Moore Public Library is hosting a book reading on Nov. 12 with Laurel Deedrick-Mayne, an award winning author who will be reading passages from her great-aunt’s Amy Wilson’s famous piece of Canadian literature No Man Stands Alone — now titled When Days are Long.
The book captures Wilson’s time as a public health nurse in northern Canada starting in 1949.
“It is part an adventure story; it is part a memoir and it’s the story my aunt wrote after her experiences nursing in northern B.C. and the Yukon. She was called the Alaska Highway Nurse,” Deedrick-Mayne said.
Wilson covered an area of 220,000 sq. miles and primarily served. with Canadian indigenous communities
“She was responsible for covering the whole territory by whatever means she could. Sometimes that was dog teams, sometimes that was by snowshoe; sometimes that was by horseback; sometimes by bush pilots and other times by vehicle,” Deedrick-Mayne said.
She said her aunt formed the book initially through hundreds of letters she shared with her family — a history of journaling that became a family tradition according to Deedrick-Mayne.
Along with journaling, Deedrick-Mayne said Wilson passed down a tradition of cultural acceptance.
“I think the most important legacy is the legacy of accepting people as people — not putting people into categories. There is no prejudice in Amy’s approach to people and that value for human beings passed down through the family,” she said.
Deedrick-Mayne said Wilson’s book carries new meaning in light of Truth and Reconciliation. She said Wilson is an example of how settler and indigenous cultures can work together.
“I think it is paramount to proceed with respect, curiosity about people, believing in the value of every person, enjoying each other’s differences, celebrating those differences and helping when asked,” Deedrick-Mayne said.
Deedrick-Mayne said Wilson passed away shortly after her book initially published in 1965 and wasn’t able to see the impact it had.
“It is a great honour and responsibility to bring her book back out now,” Deedrick-Mayne.
The majority of the book has remained the same as it was in 1965, with the addition of the new title, some footnotes, photographs and a forward by both Deedrick-Mayne and a Metis nursing professor who served in northern Canada.
Deedrick-Mayne said the reaction to the book re-release has been positive.
“We are working on arranging to have the proceeds of the book go towards a indigenous nurses training scholarship and that gets people quite excited and I think that honours Amy’s legacy in a big way,” Deedrick-Mayne said.
“She talked about what we really need in the north is indigenous nurses who really understand the community and the culture.”
Deedrick-Mayne will be at the Mary C. Moore Public library on Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. There will be a reading, a book signing and refreshments will be served
“I am super excited about being back in Lacombe. It is my home town,” Deedrick-Mayne added.