The NWT SPCA animal shelter is translating a children’s book about animals, entitled Kindness Is, into the NWT’s nine official Indigenous languages.
The SPCA and Green Bamboo Publishing will release the first two translations – Inuktitut and Tłįcho versions of the book – on June 21, to commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day.
The remaining seven translations will be released in the next year.
The book, originally published in 2017, teaches children and families how to treat animals with kindness and properly take care of them.
The story is accompanied by illustrations of real dogs from the NWT SPCA. Close-up pictures of their fur are even incorporated into the drawings.
The NWT SPCA’s vice-president, Dana Martin, said the shelter hoped the books reach people in the North’s smaller communities and provide information about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and prevention of animal cruelty.
“We’re trying to educate and promote that in the North, and we’re trying to do it in the best way possible,” Martin said.
“The best way possible right now for us is to not only communicate in English, but also to communicate in a language that maybe somebody understands better than English.”
Youth, animals, and literacy
Simone Tielesh is the book’s author. Her husband, Aidan Cartwright, is the illustrator. The couple wrote the book hoping to educate younger generations about responsible pet ownership.
Now, they are coordinating the translations and reformatting.
Tielesh said she is proud to be a part of the project and is looking forward to communicating with new readers in a way that translates both linguistically and culturally.
“We’re really excited that we’re supporting Indigenous youth reading in their traditional language because there’s not a ton of resources out there to do that, especially ones that are fun and for kids,” Tielesh said.
“And it’s really the new generation of young readers [and speakers] that are going to keep these languages going strong in the North.”
“Our North is special, and the people are special,” Martin said. “We all want the best for our animals.
“We’re coming together to support those languages, and to communicate … and to be understood.”
To celebrate the launch on June 21, Green Bamboo Publishing will host online events like virtual readings and colouring contests. More information will be shared on Facebook.
Tielesh hopes the book spreads a message of kindness to animals while raising funds for the NWT SPCA to continue its work.
“It’s helping Indigenous youth have more resources to read in their traditional languages. It’s helping animals. It’s helping literacy,” she said.
“It seems like all across the board, these are good things to be supporting. [We’re] definitely really excited.”