Students from Altadore School and James Short Memorial School were fortunate to be two of only 24 schools across the country to host Phyllis Webstad and Canadian Geographic through a program called the Paths to Reconciliation tour. Phyllis, who is the inspiration behind Orange Shirt Day, shared her personal account of attending residential school. Following Phyllis' presentation, each class was given the opportunity to explore the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada’s giant floor map. The goal of this interactive experience was to solidify the students’ understandings of the impact and legacy of the Residential School system.
Phyllis connected to the students on their level, ensuring her difficult story was appropriate and relatable for younger audiences. She made the students laugh, and even though some of them cried, they left the presentation feeling inspired by her strength and the courage it took for her to share her story. As one Grade 4 Altadore student explained, “I can’t believe people did that to kids. That is not okay. I would never let something like that happen again. I can’t believe that happened when my own mom was going to school.”
A Grade 2 student from James Short Memorial was asked why it was important to have Phyllis come and share her story. He replied, “So we know that her story was real and not just make-believe.” Phyllis praised the students at the end of her presentations, expressing surprise at how much the students already knew about residential schools. As she shared with the students at both schools, “You can tell coming into the school that you are being taught Indigenous ways and practices in your school.”
Staff, students, and parents at both schools continue to work toward Truth and Reconciliation through their continued support and involvement in opportunities like the Paths to Reconciliation tour.