Senator Dr. Mary Jane McCallum says being given the PAX award from Canadian Mennonite University helped open her eyes to see how other people saw her.
Despite being a highly accomplished woman, McCallum says this summer she got one of her first awards, and when she accepted an award for leading an exemplary life of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society, she took time to really listen to what CMU President Cheryl Pauls said about her.
"I decided to look at myself through her eyes, and those days when I am not feeling as strong as I should, I think 'ok. What is it that people see in me?' That is the person that I want to be today," McCallum says. "She really showed me a side of myself that you don't normally see of yourself."
The dentist and advocate did not grow up hearing kind things about her from educators, as McCallum is a Residential School Survivor.
"When I was in Residential School, I don't believe I had dreams because you are in an enclosed situation, and you're in a box, virtually," she says. "What about me? What about the little child that is still in there, that is trapped in there, that is trapped in this identity that has been given to me?"
She says other survivors are reconciling their own identities, looking for that child and be a fuller, spiritual being.
Later, she learnt that those who live a life of trauma feel like they will die young, something she wrestled with. McCallum recalls laying in bed in her 50s thinking "ah. What if I grow to be old?"
As the senator reflects on her youth, now being "blessed with old age," she says she never could have imagined her life being what it is today.
McCallum says she is honoured to be recognized by a school in Winnipeg, saying she remains committed to CMU.
"It gives me such great hope that they are modelling service, that they are modelling reconciliation, and that the numbers just grow, and that is just amazing. I did not think I would see that in my lifetime."
Red dresses are handing in the windows of CMU's bridge, drawing attention to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
McCallum is unsure about having National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a day off, saying she worried about it becoming like Remembrance Day where many do not attend ceremonies.
"I think this day will always be celebrated by Indigenous people as Orange Shirt Day, and bringing awareness and continuing to build that conversation."
She says while it may be uncomfortable in the search for truth, it needs to continue not only on September 30.