By Chadd Cawson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Red Sky brought their internationally renowned performance of Mistatim to J.A. Laird Elementary School on Tuesday May 31, for two beautiful performances.

One was at 9:15 a.m. offered to the students at J. Alfred Laird and Eileen Madson Primary School, who walked over for the performance. 

The other was at 1 p.m. which was provided for students from Martin Morigeau Elementary School, Windermere Elementary School, and Edgewater Elementary School. The district bussed these students to J. A. Laird so they could participate. 

Students in the Kimberley zone had the opportunity to view Mistatim the day before, and on Wednesday they performed for the students in the Golden Zone. 

“We are very fortunate that our district sets aside substantial funds each year to support live performances in schools. We also receive a grant from ArtStarts each year to top up that amount to allow us to bring 34 live performances to every school in Rocky Mountain School District 6. This is so important in a rural school district where students might not otherwise experience live performance,” says J. A. Laird Principal Terri Ann Hayes. 

“The story of Mistatim, like all great stories, provides something for everyone. It was wonderful to watch the looks on the primary children’s faces as they delighted in Falciony Patiño’s powerful, and sometimes humorous, portrayal of the horse ‘Mistatim,’” adds Hayes.

“Many of us on staff were moved by the message of mutual understanding and reconciliation, as we come to appreciate the gifts and talents each of us has to offer,” adds Hayes.

Mistatim opens with a fence which divides the lands, families, and cultures of two different children Speck’s reservation and Calvin’s ranch. Their friendship and bond grow through the taming of Calvin’s horse Mistatim and Speck’s special way of doing so. “The idea for this story came from my mind. It was initially sparked by my love of horses and the different ways of ‘taming’ a horse. It was also sparked by my deep love for good stories,” says Artistic Director Sandra Laronde. Mistatim, which began touring in 2014 has toured to every single province in Canada. The only territory they have not performed to date Nunavut to date, and just finished performing at Saskatchewan’s Nutrien Children’s Festival from June 2 to 5. Before that the Bibu Festival in Sweden. This production was created so that it could be performed anywhere from school gyms to larger venues. It has not only toured in Canada and Sweden but also USA and China to name a few.

Laronde says, “I think that the greatest impact in a lot of ways happens in smaller communities where children see professional theatre/dance for the first time. Their beautiful little minds go to wonderful places, and they revel in the story. When truth and reconciliation first came out, I noticed that most things were geared towards adults. However, we know that real change will happen with the next generation. I wanted children to fall in love with stories and to be able to speak about truth and reconciliation from a young age. Stories are incredibly powerful and if this story can spark young minds and move the needle leading to meaningful change for generations to come.”