John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has announced that the Attawapiskat First Nation has awarded the construction contract to build its new school to Penn-Co Construction Canada (2003) Ltd. of Blumenort, Manitoba. “Our Government believes that education is the foundation of strong, healthy communities. Since 2006, we have invested in 22 new schools, 22 major renovation projects and 184 projects involving minor renovations, and we made education a joint priority in the Joint Action Plan launched in 2011 with the Assembly of First Nations,” said Minister Duncan. “We are committed to working in partnership with Attawapiskat First Nation to ensure that its youth receive a quality education.”
“The children and parents of Attawapiskat rejoice with this announcement. Shannen Koostachin’s dream was, in part, a safe and comfy school. We are happy that this part of her dream will soon be realized. I wish to extend thanks to all those involved, including the working group that has worked diligently for the past year to bring us to this stage,” said Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence. “As Shannen said, ‘Never give up.’ The construction of the new school is a great accomplishment for our First Nation.”
The Attawapiskat First Nation, in partnership with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, is responsible for managing all aspects of this project. After a competitive public tendering process the First Nation awarded the contract to construct its new school to Penn-Co Construction Canada (2003) Ltd on March 6, 2012. The contractor has extensive experience working with remote First Nation communities on the construction of large facilities such as water treatment plants, hospitals, schools, and commercial buildings.
When completed, the 5,808-square-metre new school will accommodate 540 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. The new school is expected to open during the 2013-2014 school year.
The need for the school has been the focus of efforts with youth from Attawapiskat, and led to the formation of Shannen’s Dream, the largest youth led movement in Canada to bring quality schools to Canada’s Aboriginal communities.