Washaho Cree Nation Celebrates New School

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Dignitaries including Nishnawbe-Ashi Grand Chief Fiddler were on hand for the ribbon cutting
Dignitaries including Nishnawbe-Ashi Grand Chief Fiddler were on hand for the ribbon cutting
Dignitaries including Nishnawbe-Ashi Grand Chief Fiddler were on hand for the ribbon cutting
Dignitaries including Nishnawbe-Ashi Grand Chief Fiddler were on hand for the ribbon cutting

FORT SEVERN – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox joined with Fort Severn First Nation Chief Paul Burke and community members to celebrate the official opening of the remote First Nation’s new school today.

“Quality learning environments are essential for supporting better educational outcomes. These new schools in Fort Severn and Poplar Hills First Nations will make a significant difference in the lives of the communities and especially the youth, now and for generations to come,” stated Minister Carolyn Bennett.

“We are gathered today to celebrate our school grand opening and to recognize the people that made all this possible, and I say thank you on behalf of the people of Fort Severn for this gift. A gift that will hopefully span generations and to open doors for a new breed of indigenous youth who have access to a global community,” said Fort Severn Chief Paul Burke. “Now that we have a proper school, we need to concentrate on providing the tools and support for the staff to continue to inspire our children to grow and mature.”

“We are proud to celebrate the opening of this wonderful new facility which will allow the youth of Fort Severn First Nation to pursue their education in a safe and healthy environment,” said Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox, who holds the education portfolio. “This school is an investment in our youth, and this community, and will give these students the opportunity they need to achieve academic success and reach their full potential.”

The Wasaho Cree Nation School has seven classrooms accommodating 24 students in each. It is equipped with a science lab, computer lab, library, special education classroom, cafeteria, breakfast program, gymnasium, soccer field, baseball field and an outdoor hockey rink. The school currently has a staff of 17 but is in the process of hiring additional staff.

Funding for the $22-million project was announced by the federal government in 2015. Construction material was shipped to the remote community during the winter ice road season and construction began in spring 2015. The new school welcomed students in kindergarten to grade 8 in September.

Bob Nault, Member of Parliament (Kenora riding), joined the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development, in congratulating both Fort Severn and Poplar Hill First Nations on the opening of their new schools. Today’s announcement of over $44.4 million for the new elementary schools reflects the priority that the Government of Canada has placed on improving First Nation education.

“I am sure students will have a fantastic first year in their new school and I look forward to meeting some of the bright and creative minds of Fort Severn and Poplar Hill. I’m proud that our government is committed to investing in schools to help improve the educational outcomes among First Nations. It’s long overdue and it will pay dividends in the not too distant future,” stated Nault.

The Fort Severn First Nation elementary school is a Kindergarten to Grade 8 facility that will accommodate over 100 students. The Poplar Hill First Nation elementary school offers Kindergarten to Grade 9, with almost 175 students.

Budget 2016 is investing $969.4 million over five years in First Nation education infrastructure, for the construction, repair and maintenance of First Nations school facilities. These further investments will continue to create quality learning environments, promoting better educational outcomes for First Nation students living on reserves.

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada invested over $44.4 million for the new elementary schools in Fort Severn and Poplar Hill.
  • The Fort Severn First Nation elementary school is a 2,041 square metre Kindergarten to Grade 8 facility that will accommodate over 100 students.
  • The Poplar Hill First Nation elementary school is a 2,432 square metre Kindergarten to Grade 9 facility that will accommodate close to 175 student
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