At the accreditation review of Athol Murray College of Notre Dame this week in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, I was reminded of a story of a researcher who was working on a book about famous people. After repeatedly being turned down by this world famous heart surgeon for an interview, and thoroughly frustrated, the researcher got his opportunity – finally! – but only on one condition: a maximum of 10 minutes. After the interview, he saw the surgeon talking at length to someone else who did not appear to be on the medical staff. And for several minutes! Curious to know who could possibly be important enough to deserve this amount of the surgeon’s precious time, the researcher approached the man and inquired, “Excuse me sir. Can you tell me what on earth you do at this hospital?” As the man replied, he turned to reveal his ‘Cleaning Staff ‘ shirt. He stood tall, mop in hand and said, “WE SAVE LIVES!
You may have heard that Notre Dame is a hockey school, but like most of our CAIS schools, it has a vision and staff dedicated to the whole child. I saw this in action this week when meeting with a group of 25 students. One boy quietly said, “Back home, I would probably be doing drugs and alcohol like many of my friends.” Other students nodded – maybe they were from a similar situation or maybe not. But what was notable was the absolute silence in the room. He quietly continued, “This school changed my life.”
At that, others in the group told stories of Hounds who went on to play NHL hockey, or become a rocket scientist, or pursue their dreams, or attend the university of their choice. There was a resounding: “This school changed my life too.”
Notre Dame’s motto is “Luctor et Emergo,” meaning struggle and emerge. I can tell you about the recent struggles with water as this year’s record amount of snow is flooding the prairies, and I can tell you about how their community is emerging after the tragic loss of one of their young alums, Mandi Schwartz, who went on to play hockey at Yale and the entire team, along with over 1000 others returned last week for her funeral, and can I encourage you to check out the anti-bullying campaign we experienced called “I’ve got your back.”
But what left the strongest impression on me this week at Notre Dame was a community that is committed, like all of our CAIS schools, to changing lives.