We acknowledge that Purcell Preschool sits on the traditional, ancestral homeland of the Ktunaxa peoples. Our neighbours, friends, and partners are members of the ʔaq̓am Community.
We are grateful for the opportunity to live, learn, and work on this special land for this important purpose: to connect our educational environment to the natural environment, fostering learning and inspiring leadership in the Ktunaxa way – as keepers of the land and waters.
The Miȼqaqas (Columbia) and ʔakaq̓ⱡahaⱡ (Kootenay) River systems are the lifeline of the Ktunaxa. Without water there is no life. With this in mind, Ktunaxa made their homeland within the surrounding river systems. The two rivers form the high-top Moccasin, the original footwear of the People. All the streams and secondary rivers that run into the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers represent the laces that hold the moccasin in place.
The Ktunaxa People have continued to exist here for the last 15,000 years +/- 100. There was very little outside influence until approximately 150 years ago. The Ktunaxa language is an isolate, with no known related dialect in the general proximity or worldwide. We are here to protect the land and resources for the future generations that are to follow.
As part of that protection, traditional place names handed down from Naⱡmuqȼin, the giant being in the Ktunaxa Creation Story, must again be recognized. Ktunaxa, as sole protectors of the territory, are tasked with bringing recognition back to the names in the area. Here are three examples of traditional names in this area:
K̓ukamaʔnam (animal trail running down), now known to visitors as Kimberley, was founded in 1893 when the North Star Mine came into production; and
The two laces (the laces of the moccasins): ʔaqanaʔmatnana ʔakinmituk (Black Alder Tree Creek [Mark Creek]) which runs south into ʔaq̓am ʔakinmituk (St. Mary’s River) and then enters ʔakaqⱡahaⱡ ʔakinmituk (Kootenay River) approximately 20 kilometers east of here.
ʔaq̓am Language Speakers & Knowledge Holders and ʔaq̓am Language Authority give permission for this traditional knowledge to be utilized for information
sharing purposes only and hold the rights to all information. Approved by: Language Speakers & Knowledge Holders Meeting – June 7, 2021
The ʔaq̓am Community of the Ktunaxa Nation is located less than 30 minutes from Purcell Preschool between Kimberley and Cranbrook.
We encourage you to visit the Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre located at St. Eugene Mission near the ʔaq̓am Community to learn more about the history, culture, and language of the Ktunaxa people.
While there, you will also have the opportunity to learn about the residential school that operated at St. Eugene Mission from 1912 to 1970 and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which led to the publication of the 94 Calls to Action and the creation of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).
The former residential school is now home to St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino which features a full-service, three-diamond hotel with 125 rooms and suites, the Casino of the Rockies, and an 18-hole championship golf course.
Kiʔsuʔk kyukyit! This is the ʔaq’am Community’s official website. ʔaq̓am is a First Nations community situated within the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation. Discover more about their people, their stories, their business and their community.
ʔaq̓am Community – St. Mary’s Indian Band
The official Facebook page of the ʔaq’am Community (St. Mary’s Indian Band). Click here to engage with this Ktunaxa Nation Community of 400 members located 6 km North of Cranbrook, BC, on 7,461 hectares of Reserve Land.
ʔaq̓am Community Enterprises (ACE)
Do business with the ʔaq̓am Community! The mandate of ACE is to generate revenue and create economic opportunities through sound business practices and strategic relationships built upon a foundation of fairness and integrity.
ʔaq̓amnik’ Elementary School
The website of the ʔaq̓am Community’s BC-curriculum independent school.
The official Facebook page of the ʔaq̓am Community’s childcare facility.
St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino
A world-class hotel, golf course, casino, and RV park, St. Eugene is located in a former residential school and is home to the Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre. Learn more about the rich heritage, mythology and culture of the Ktunaxa and how St. Eugene was rebuilt to benefit the Ktunaxa people for years to come.
ʔaq̓am Trading Gas Bar
More than just gas and snacks! Visit for the perfect souvenir to top off your trip and choose from a wide assortment of First Nations giftware.
ʔaq̓am BCAFN webpage
Profile page for the ʔaq̓am Community on the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations’ website.
?Aq’am (St. Mary’s Indian Band)
BC government webpage for the ʔaq̓am Community
The official website of the Ktunaxa Nation whose traditional territory covers approximately 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles) within the Kootenay region of south-eastern British Columbia and historically included parts of Alberta, Montana, Washington and Idaho.
The Ktunaxa Ready website showcases Ktunaxa businesses to promote short and longer-term business to business relationships.
The official Facebook page of the Ktunaxa Nation. Click here to engage with First Nation that has occupied the lands adjacent to the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers and the Arrow Lakes of British Columbia, Canada for more than 10,000 years.
Ktunaxa Nation (BC)
BC government webpage for the Ktunaxa Nation.
First Peoples Principles of Learning
Visit the website of the First Nations Education Steering Committee to learn more about the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning, an attempt to identify common elements in the varied teaching and learning approaches that prevail within particular First Nations societies.
An online space for Indigenous communities to share and promote language, oral culture and linguistic history. Language teams work with elders to curate and upload audio recordings, dictionaries, songs and stories. This content is shared with community members and the broader public.
BC K-12 curriculum
Follow this link for information and resource documents that reflect implicit and explicit references to Indigenous Knowledge and Perspectives throughout the K-12 Curriculum. Educators may use this resource to easily access where Indigenous Knowledge and Perspectives intersect with the curriculum in every area of learning at every grade level.
Truth and Reconciliation
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Visit the archived website of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR)
The NCTR is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations. The NCTR was created as part of the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). The TRC was charged to listen to Survivors, their families, communities and others affected by the residential school system and educate Canadians about their experiences. The resulting collection of statements, documents and other materials now forms the sacred heart of the NCTR.
94 Calls to Action:
Published by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this must-read document calls on all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal — to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.