A residential school survivor met with some young students in Sault Ste. Marie this week and he said he was surprised at their level of knowledge and empathy.

Last year, students at St. Mary’s French Immersion Catholic School in Sault Ste. Marie began to learn about the history of residential schools.

In their studies, many of them were drawn to Edmund Metatawabin's story of his experience in a residential school.

"All the hardships he endured and everything he survived through and his courage to keep going forward." said student Ronan Provenzano.

As part of class, students made graphic novels.

Ronan was particularly moved by the trauma other kids suffered in residential schools and he had a message for Metatawabin when they met.

"It was really sad and kind of made me angry, because everyone thought what they were doing was right and it really wasn't. I said ‘I’m sorry’, because for whatever ancestors I might have had that might have done these things." said Provenzano.

"I'm proud of the school and amazed of the children, of their knowledge and understanding they have developed. I hear them speaking, I hear them, I see their work and it's very moving." said Metatawabin.

Teachers at St. Mary's say it is touching to see how their students are reacting when learning about the history of residential schools in Canada. They are proud to see their pupils trying to do their part in reconciling a dark time in our nation's history.

"For the first time, I saw reconciliation happening. I saw a 13-year-old boy apologizing to an elder, a residential school survivor, for something he had nothing to do with." said teacher Anick Champagne.

Edmund Metatawabin's visit is part of ongoing lessons on residential schools at St. Mary's.