Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie at the Oct. 14 cross-cultural training session.

Session teaches about First Nations culture

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The Lower Kootenay Band with Chief Jason Louie offered a cross-cultural training session on Oct. 14 at the Yaqan Nukiy cultural centre. Approximately 40 interested persons from both sides of the Canada-U.S. border were in attendance.

The traditional welcome and prayers were conducted by Yaqan Nukiy and LKB council member Anne Jimmie.

Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services Society wellness educator Angie Louie gave a history of the residential school system and described its impact on successive generations of the First Nations.

This history, Louie explained, began in 1867 when the first schools were built to train aboriginal children for the work force. At first, attendance was voluntary, but by 1910, the law required the children to be full-time residents at the schools.

Louie spoke of the weakening of the First Nations family structure, as parenting skills, traditional language and customs were lost to each successive generation.

In 1972, the Red Paper was signed, handing the education and care of their children back to the First Nations communities. Twenty schools were built across Canada, one at the Lower Kootenay Band. The last residential school closed in 1988.

Ktunaxa Nation chair Katherine Teneese gave an overview of the memorandum of understanding signed with the Canada Border Services Agency, and currently undergoing revision. The memorandum was written to facilitate border crossings between band members who live in Alberta, B.C., Idaho and Montana.

Before inviting all to a luncheon of Indian tacos, Jason Louie, who became chief of the Lower Kootenay Band in January, expressed appreciation to all attendees, and hope for future opportunities for a cultural awareness exchange.

— BY JOANNA WILSON