Speaking to a large crowd of students and teachers at Prince Charles Secondary School on Tuesday, Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie encouraged teachers to teach local First Nations history.
“But tell your students the truth,” he said. “Tell them about residential schools. Tell them about the’ 60s scoop (when children were removed from their homes). Tell them about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Tell them about the missing and murdered indigenous women.”
Louie was speaking prior to a ceremonial raising of the LKB flag in front of the school.
After presenting teacher Ki Louie with a ceremonial blanket to thank him for his efforts in having the flag displayed at PCSS, Louie said that it is vital that young people learn about the history of their aboriginal neighbours.
“Our people have never ceded our traditional territory, but we live in a different time now and we all need to work together to move forward.”
Chief Louie’s uncle, Robert Louie Sr., would raise the flag later, an act of respect for his being the first Lower Kootenay Band member to graduate in 1972.
“I used to walk the halls in this school with my head hung low,” Chief Louie said. “I didn’t know how to fight until I became part of the public school system. All of the students here should walk with their heads held high, knowing they are respected.”
Last week the Lower Kootenay Band Council took offense to a School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) decision to amend the wording of acknowledgement that it operates on traditional Ktunaxa and Yaqan Nukiy territory. While the acknowledgement, which was negotiated with the Lower Kootenay Band, will remain unchanged in Creston schools, the district said it will add other bands to the acknowledgement used in others schools and the board office in Nelson.
“Stay out of our politics,” Louie said in a letter to the superintendent of schools.
Louie told the Advance that the LKB will work toward having its flag flown throughout its traditional territories, and not solely in the Creston Valley.