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Notes from the Spiral Staircases

This week I want to highlight some library resources that can inform and enrich our community discussions on the impact of residential schools in Canada. To honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation next week, many of us will wear an orange shirt. The Orange Shirt Story written by Phyllis Webstad is based on the author's own experience as a child. It gives us something tangible to hold on to and think about: a favourite shirt taken away at an institution meant to strip so many aspects of Indigenous identity away. The illustrations of the child Phyllis crying in her bed are not easy to look at or think about. As members of a community that strives to be kind, inclusive, and caring, we all wonder: how do we move forward from this appalling past?
 
King’s-Edgehill School students and faculty are so fortunate to have access to extensive library holdings by many Indigenous writers. For a start, there are residential school narratives in the form of graphic novels, picture books, memoirs, novels, and poetry including I am not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis, These are my Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens by Ruby Slipperjack, Out of the Depths by Isabelle Knockwood, and When we were Alone by David A. Robertson.  
 
There are also works by Indigenous academics, lawyers, politicians, poets, journalists, novelists, and artists who have dedicated their careers toward reconciliation. In Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, Professor Robin Wall Kimmerer begins with the image of the braid as a wonderful metaphor for what we are trying to do as a community that is learning and growing together. We are like two people holding either end of the sweetgrass strands; one braids, the other holds. She says, “Linked by sweetgrass, there is reciprocity between you, linked by sweetgrass, the holder as vital as the braider.”  
 
Might we embrace our School motto and Be More in this situation—dare I say, Read More? A few possible starting points are pictured below. And there are so many more. In the beautiful words of Kimmerer again, “Will you hold the end of the bundle while I braid? Hands joined by grass, can we bend our heads together and make a braid to honor the earth? And then I’ll hold it for you, while you braid too.”  
 
Susie DeCoste
Library Assistant
SAT Coordinator


IB Programme at KES
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KES inspires academic, athletic and artistic excellence with a commitment to the traditional community ideals of gentleness and learning, dignity and respect, so that students may discover and cultivate their unique potential, prepare for post-secondary education and develop a life-long enthusiasm for the spiritual and intellectual growth necessary to flourish in the contemporary world.

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King's-Edgehill School is a coeducational boarding and day school for grades 6 through 12, located in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada.