The federal government announced March 18 in Winnipeg that it was entering into a partnership and providing funding to construct or renovate schools in four Northern Manitoba First Nations.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt said the partnership with Bunibonibee Cree Nation at Oxford House, God’s Lake First Nation, Manto Sipi Cree Nation and Wasagamack First Nation was a step towards long-term economic growth and prosperity for their members.
“This partnership is a clear demonstration of that commitment and to helping to provide First Nation students with an environment where they can learn and acquire the skills needed to enter the labour market and be full participants in a strong Canadian economy,” the minister said in a press release.
The partnership will provide costs savings, the government says, by reducing costs for materials and shipping. This is the largest school infrastructure development plan undertaken by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
“It is definitely a good day when a project on paper becomes a reality,” said Bunibonibee Cree Nation Chief Irvin Sinclair. “It is a great investment for our future that will pay dividends for many years to come. This truly shows a great commitment in partnership.”
For God’s Lake First Nation, the project will eventually allow some students to continue their education in the home community instead of leaving to continue their education after completing Grade 9.
“This is a good investment on the government and First Nation’s part and will improve everything all around,” said Chief Gilbert Andrews.
Wasagamack First Nation currently has 610 students and only those from preschool to Grade 7 can be accommodated in the main school building that was built in 1976. Students in Grade 8 and higher study in portable classrooms around the school.
“Wasagamack is thrilled about this project that will provide high school students with the necessary space and programming they rightly deserve and need in order to complete their high school education on Wasagamack First Nation,” said Chief Sharon Mason.