Murdoch MacKay Collegiate
To Whom It May Concern,
RE: Tony Stevenson’s presentation as a Residential School Survivor
My name is Kim Dudek and | am History Department Head at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. One of the courses I teach is Current Events in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies, and Mr. Stevenson’s name was brought up in a discussion surrounding Residential School Survivors. We were able to arrange a date with him for a class lecture but once word spread that Mr. Stevenson was coming in, a number of other classes, from English to our FLEX program, asked to join. Mr. Stevenson easily accommodated the change in venue, from class to theatre, and numbers, from 25 to nearly 100.
Mr. Stevenson’s life story evokes a powerful and personal connection with his audience and it was an honour to have him present to our students. He adeptly handled the mixed age group, as there were Grades 3 through 12 with attending teachers, and all questions that accompany such a diverse crowd. He presents factually and somehow manages to discuss the very hard and real aspects of his life with objectivity, humility, and sensitivity. He knows how to meet his audience ‘where they are at’ and was able to work through a technological glitch (ours) without breaking stride.
It was interesting to note how many students wanted to thank him for providing his story and how many wanted to share with him their family experiences with the institutions imposed upon them from CFS to Residential Schools immediately following his presentation. He graciously answered all questions and took as long as each student needed to talk. Our FLEX students (who are a school-within-a-school setting for students requiring alternative programing) invited him to their classroom and without hesitation he joined them giving more of his time than was originally considered.
The following day the students were engaged In one of our best to date discussions, referencing Mr. Stevenson’s life and grappling thoughtfully with issues on justice, relationship, reconciliation, and change. I attribute the careful consideration of issues and the recognition of the enormity of chartering a new direction my students have been working through with Mr. Stevenson’s presence and presentation.
Kim Dudek, History Department Head