Wapekeka First Nation Works Toward Recovery from Fire
THUNDER BAY – Minister Greg Rickford is leading a team early next week into Wapekeka First Nation, where the community’s school was destroyed by fire on Wednesday. Minister Rickford stated in an interview with NetNewsLedger that the “Special action team is headed into Wapekeka to work to solutions that will include saving the school year for students”.
The elementary school in Wapekeka First Nation burnt to the ground last Wednesday night. The fire put the end of the school year in doubt for the students in the community. The fire fully engulfed the The Reverend Eleazar Winter Memorial School overnight.
The fire caught the Minister’s attention right away. Having lived in the North as a nurse in several Northern Communities, Minister Rickford said that he realizes the importance of the school in the community.
In many Northern Communities the schools serve as gathering points for community activities and meetings. The lost of a school is a major blow to the community. In remote communities in the North, it is not like in the city where other local schools could take in students.
There is help coming to Wapekeka First Nation. Books with out Bounds has already stepped up and are shipping in books, tablets and other needed supplies toward replacing what was lost.
About the School
The Reverend Eleazar Winter Memorial School was constructed in 1990. It consisted of four classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a library/resource room, a principals office, staff room.
The school in the community is operated by the Wapekeka First Nation under the Wapekeka Education Authority. The Wapekeka Education Authority is a Committee consisting of Community members who provide guidelines, rules and procedures for the school. This committee is accountable to the First Nation Council. Education is provided from Jr. Kindergarten to Eight and Grade Nine is offered to students who are not ready to leave the community.
Distance Education is also provide through N.N.E.C.’s Wahsa Program. The school and the community are connected to the internet through the SchoolNet program.
Saving the school year for the students appears to be an issue where there are no arguments.