Construction begins on new Kingfisher Lake First Nation school, community hopes it will be ready next year

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Young people from Kingfisher Lake First Nation will soon be learning in a brand new school.

The community, located about 350 kilometers north of Sioux Lookout, held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, marking the start of construction of the new school building.

This is something that has been needed for a long time, said Chief Lott Sainnawap.

“The current school, it was built in 1971, with a few additions,” he said.

The current school, Sainnawap said, gets very cold in the winter and had to be closed because of this in the past. In addition, it only welcomes students up to the 8th grade.

Efforts to build a new school have been underway for about a decade, he said, and the new building will include two wings.

“One wing will be for elementary, one wing will be for high school, up to grade 10,” Sainnawap said. “Between the two, there will be a cafeteria, a gym.

The school property will also include baseball, soccer and volleyball fields, he said.

In a press release, the Shibogama First Nations Council said the $38.7 million school is being built in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada.

The new building will also include eight classrooms, a traditional learning classroom, a seniors’ lounge, and sensory and health rooms.

“It’s so important to be able to control our own programming,” Sainnawap said. “Our young people are losing their language.”

“With this new school and this programming that we can control, we should be able to maintain the language and maintain our culture.”

Construction of the school is expected to be completed next summer, with students taking classes there from fall 2023.

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