BIRCH NARROWS FIRST NATION, SASKATCHEWAN (August 17, 2010) – Rob Clarke, Member of Parliament for Desnethe - Missinippi, on behalf of the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, along with Donna Harpauer, Minister of Education for Saskatchewan, and Robert Sylvester, Chief of the Birch Narrows First Nation, today unveiled a new $25-million comprehensive school on the Birch Narrows First Nation.
The new K-12 school is the result of a three-way partnership between the federal and provincial governments and the First Nation. The new facility will accommodate the community's increasing student population, which had previously been transported to either the existing off-reserve school administered by the First Nation through an agreement with the Northern Lights School Division, or to the nearby La Loche Community School.
"Ensuring First Nation students can successfully obtain a quality education in their own community is a priority for the Government of Canada," said MP Clarke. "By working together on projects such as this, we are ensuring the next generation of First Nation learners are ready to enter tomorrow's workforce and participate fully in Canada's economy."
"The Ministry of Education is proud to support the collaboration between the Birch Narrows First Nation and the Northern Lights School Division," said Minister Harpauer. "This capital project will contribute to improved learning opportunities and student achievement while helping to secure a high-quality of life for the community."
"Being able to educate our children within our community will result in numerous benefits," said Chief Sylvester. "Not only will we have input into the instruction our students receive, as parents we'll have peace of mind knowing they are not having to travel outside the community to get it. This school will also help to enhance our rate of students graduating, which should translate into an increase in the number of students who continue their education beyond Grade 12."
Construction of the new school, which represents the first First Nation school project completed under Canada's Economic Action Plan (CEAP), began in 2009. In total, the Government of Canada has invested $20.3 million towards the school under CEAP, with the province contributing $4.25 million and the First Nation $350,000. Completed nearly 11 weeks ahead of schedule, the project resulted in over 105,000 works hours, with local workers logging 60,000 of those hours.
Birch Narrows First Nation is located approximately 580 km northwest of Saskatoon, with an estimated population of 650.
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