The Ktunaxa Nation is sharing a pledge to help mark Orange Shirt Day by using a unique technology that features an audio file of a student speaking in Ktunaxa traditional language .
The pledge, which ends with a promise to respect classmates, teachers and self, can be heard by focusing a smart phone on a Quick Response Code (QR Code) — which look similar to a typical bar code — prompting a website that automatically pops up to access the audio file.
The QR code and language resource was developed by the Ktunaxa Nation Council Education and Employment Centre, in collaboration with School District 5. The pledge can be found in the Yaqan Nukiy School Gym in the Ktunaxa community of Yaqan Nukiy (near Creston.)
“This resource was created to encourage our friends to speak the Ktunaxa language—and Orange Shirt Day on September 30 is a great opportunity to try,” said Bonnie Harvey, Education Ambassador with the Ktunaxa Nation Council.
I am glad to be here today.
Hold my hand.
I am small yet.
I still don’t know what I am being taught.
For today I shall listen.
For today I shall try.
For today I shall honour my classmates, teachers and myself.
The interpretation of the pledge into English was done with the help of Ktunaxa elders.
“We’re super excited to share this invaluable resource with residents of ʔamakʔis Ktunaxa today—and we wish that all students have a safe and productive school year,” Harvey said. “We’ve got to take care of each other every day at school and at home, and respect is the starting place that leads to understanding and friendship.”
Orange Shirt Day (September 30) was started seven years ago in 2013 as a way to honour thousands of Indigenous children who were sent away to residential schools over a period that lasted well over 100 years.
The significance of the ‘Orange Shirt’ refers to a new shirt that Northern Secwpemc student Phyllis Webstad was given by her grandmother for her first day of school at St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, B.C.
When Phyllis got to school, they took away her clothes, including her new shirt, which was never returned. To Phyllis, the colour orange has always reminded her of her experiences at residential school and, as she has said, “How my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared.”
Those wanting to learn more about residential schools and how they fit into efforts of reconciliation can access many other online resources, including the Assembly of First Nations learning toolkit called “Plain Talk 6: Residential Schools.”
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting an online event open to all Canadian schools on September 30 called Every Child Matters: Reconciliation Through Education.