You can do it!
This affirmation (which is the same in n-, th-, and y-dialects) uses Sol’s triumphant photo from the Crypt Lake Hike, his most challenging hike from this summer. It’s a reminder of a favourite childhood book that he and I both share: The Little Engine that Could by Wattie Piper (which has maintained its popularity for over 90 years).
In the âcimisowin (autobiographical story) that follows, Sol remembers his early encounters at Residential School with The Little Engine that Could (the story below is in th-dialect). Sol would undoubtedly make Wattie Piper proud!
nikiskisin î-ayapiyân nimasinahikîwinâhtikohk î-nitohtawak okiskinwahamâkîw î-ayamihtât masinahikan. âskaw mâna niwâpahtahikonânan masinipathiwina ita î-nôkosit iskocîwicâpânaskos î-âmaciwîkocihk ispatinâhk, tâpiskôc î-sîhcihikot anihi kâ-otâpâtahk otâpâna ‘nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân!’ î-itwît. ikwa î-ati-nihtacowîkocihk î-pâhpinâkosit. ‘nikaskihtân! nikaskihtân! nikaskihtân!’ î-itwît.
mâmaskâc kâ-kiskisiyân ôma âta namwâc nikî-nisitohtîn âkathâsîmowin ikospî mâka nikî-mithohtîn iyako ‘nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân! nika-kaskihtân!’
nikiskisin mîna Mrs. Roberts kâ-kî-itiht nikiskinwahamâkîm.
ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᐣ ᐄ ᐊᔭᐱᔮᐣ ᓂᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑮᐏᓈᐦᑎᑯᕽ ᐄ ᓂᑐᐦᑕᐘᐠ ᐅᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑮᐤ ᐄ ᐊᔭᒥᐦᑖᐟ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐃᑲᐣ᙮ ᐋᐢᑲᐤ ᒫᓇ ᓂᐚᐸᐦᑕᐦᐃᑯᓈᓇᐣ ᒪᓯᓂᐸᖨᐏᓇ ᐃᑕ ᐄ ᓅᑯᓯᐟ ᐃᐢᑯᒌᐏᒑᐹᓇᐢᑯᐢ ᐄ ᐋᒪᒋᐑᑯᒋᕽ ᐃᐢᐸᑎᓈᕽ, ᑖᐱᐢᑰᐨ ᐄ ᓰᐦᒋᐦᐃᑯᐟ ᐊᓂᐦᐃ ᑳ ᐅᑖᐹᑕᕽ ᐅᑖᐹᓇ ‘ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ!ᐃ ᐄ ᐃᑜᐟ᙮ ᐃᑿ ᐄ ᐊᑎ ᓂᐦᑕᒍᐑᑯᒋᕽ ᐄ ᐹᐦᐱᓈᑯᓯᐟ᙮ ‘ᓂᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ!ᐃ ᐄ ᐃᑜᐟ᙮
ᒫᒪᐢᑳᐨ ᑳ ᑭᐢᑭᓯᔮᐣ ᐆᒪ ᐋᑕ ᓇᒹᐨ ᓂᑮ ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑏᐣ ᐋᑲᖭᓰᒧᐏᐣ ᐃᑯᐢᐲ ᒫᑲ ᓂᑮ ᒥᖪᐦᑏᐣ ᐃᔭᑯ ‘ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ! ᓂᑲ ᑲᐢᑭᐦᑖᐣ!ᐃ
ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓯᐣ ᒦᓇ Mrs. Roberts ᑳ ᑮ ᐃᑎᐦᐟ ᓂᑭᐢᑭᓌᐦᐊᒫᑮᒼ᙮
I remember sitting at my desk listening to the teacher reading a book. Once in a while she would show us a picture of a little train engine going up a hill. He looked like he was struggling as he went up the hill. ‘I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!’ he says. And he’s going down the hill smiling. ‘I thought I could! I thought I could! I thought I could!’ he says.
It is strange I remember this although I understood no English at that time but I liked the rhythm of ‘I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!’
I also remember my teacher, the late Mrs. Roberts.