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Many Indigenous children in the NWT who love animals can now read about their four-legged friends in their own languages.

“Kindness Is…”, originally written in English by Yellowknife resident Simone Tielesh and illustrated by her husband Aidan Cartwright, is now available in Tłı̨chǫ and Inuktitut translations.

The cover of “Kindness Is…”, translated into Inuktitut. The children’s book is about respect for animals.
image courtesy of the NWT SPCA

Using illustrations of dog life, the book teaches simple lessons of kindness towards animals, based on a poem in English. Its first four lines read:

“Kindness is a gentle touch”

“Kindness is being loved so much”

“Kindness is a comfy bed”

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“Kindness is always being fed”

The furry coats of the dogs on each page are based on nine real dogs from the NWT SPCA, whose photos are in a gallery at the beginning of the book.

The book is suitable for children up to five years of age.

Though Tielesh and Cartwright wrote the book three years ago, the idea for translations into the Indigenous languages came up after they partnered with the NWT Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), who were given the rights to the book.

“We are so excited that the message of kindness to animals can reach even more people now, while also supporting Indigenous youth reading and speaking their traditional languages,” said Simone. “We donated the copyright and all rights to the book to them and volunteered our time making the book — it was a labour of love for animals.”

Included in every book is the English poem, as well as information about the Indigenous language and a map of the Official Languages of the NWT.

“The NWT SPCA felt it was important to reach all children in the NWT through their Indigenous language and this is why we initiated this project. We are of course thrilled to be able to connect with children in a meaningful way to help them learn about kindness to animals in their traditional languages,” said SPCA vice-president Dana Martin.

Versions in the NWT’s seven other Indigenous languages are expected later in the year, said Jasmine Cabanaw of Green Bamboo Publishing, which is printing the books.

The nine translators hired for each version include Mary Siemens (Tłı̨chǫ), Mikle Langenhan (Inuktitut), Mabel Martin (North Slavey), Victor Constant (South Slavey), Marjorie Lavallee and Dorothy Thunder (Cree), William Firth (Gwich’in), Margo Kadlun-Jones (Inuinnaqtun), Elizabeth Biscaye (Chipewyan) and Holly Carpenter (Inuvialuktun).

Hard copies of the Tłı̨chǫ and Inuktitut translations can be ordered from the publishers’s website. E-books will be available in June through Amazon and Indigo, which will also sell hard copy versions.

All proceeds from book sales will go to the NWT SPCA.

An official launch for the Inuktitut and Tłı̨chǫ translations is planned for National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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