Paul Kuster prides himself as a truth teller. It’s why he went public with his allegations around an uncomfortable culture within the Calgary Catholic School District.
“Was it hard? Yes it is hard when you’re taking on an institution all by yourself but I’m glad I did,” Kuster said.
“Institutions are like a big ship and it takes them a long time to turn a corner.”
Kuster, who is a teacher, a comedian and also a former broadcaster, said a number of racist incidents within the hallways of the school have deeply impacted him. Last year he said, it was time to break his silence.
“I’ve had enough, I need to go public. People need to know this is a very real situation,” Kuster said in a 2020 interview.
Since then, he said he’s seen a will to make things different.
“They are listening to me and my story and how can we make things better,” Kuster said. “They started an anti-racism district committee that I am on and I started a racial justice club at one of the schools.
“We are now working together to address these serious issues and we just started but we’ve only begun.”
Kuster wants to do more towards reconciliation after the discoveries of the unmarked burial sites at residential schools in this country.
At the end of May, the bodies of 215 Indigenous children were found at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. On Thursday, an estimated 751 unmarked graves were found at the former site of the Marieval Indian Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.
“It tears you apart from the inside out. When the latest number came out, 751, it rocks you to your core,” Kuster said.
“If I can change one person’s mind for the better than its all worth it.”
He is driven by his own history. One of Kuster’s ancestors was an Indigenous warrior named All Mighty Voice.
“He shot a cow for a feast for a wedding. That cow was owned by white settler so they sent out the RCMP and threw him in jail and he broke out and they had a gun battle. They chased him through the bush and for 18 months the warriors evaded them. They ended up getting killed by authorities.
“It’s in my DNA to stand up and I am proud to have that lineage pumping through my veins,” Kuster said.