In response to recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, local governments and groups across Canada have begun to acknowledge that their occupation and activities take place on traditional Indigenous lands.
But a recent Kootenay Lake School District decision to amend its acknowledgements—originally negotiated with the Lower Kootenay Band and Ktunaxa Nation—has offended Chief Jason Louie and his council.
A letter to School District No. 8’s board of education from the LKB council dated May 24th says “The Chief and Council of Lower Kootenay Band are deeply troubled by the recent actions…”
The band council takes exception to the addition of names of other First Nations groups in the school district’s acknowledgments. The changes are being made despite Louie’s admonition that the school district “stay out of Indigenous politics.”
“In response to this proposed change, Chief and Council unanimously and adamantly told District Staff that although they may be well-intentioned, they had no understanding nor role in Indigenous politics and to stay out of it. District Staff were told to focus on providing the best educational experience to Indigenous students. The existing territory acknowledgement was to remain,” the letter says.
“In response to this message from Chief and Council, District Staff were seemingly apologetic and thanked the Council for a learning opportunity.”
However, in a meeting shortly after the one with the LKB council, SD No. 8 staff heard a presentation from a Sinixt activist. According to the letter, the activist “attempted to lay claim to Ktunaxa territory; culturally appropriate the sturgeon nose canoe, claimed Ktunaxa forebearers as her own; and propagated hate against our people.”
Subsequently, the council writes, a decision was made by Superintendent Christine Perkins to make “the outrageous decision” to allow the use of the Lower Kootenay/Ktunaxa flag’s display in Creston schools only, and not in other District schools.
“This decision was made with no consultation whatsoever with the Lower Kootenay Band.”
With a request to appear before the June 25 regular school board meeting, the letter says the LKB relationship with the SD No. 8 is under threat.
“We cannot underscore enough how this arrogance, bordering on colonialism, undermines out trust in School District No. 8. Lower Kootenay Band is considering its options in terms of its continuing relationship with SD#8 which may impact the future of the Enhancement Agreement and the Local Education Agreement.”