Tsuut'ina unveil new high school on National Indigenous Peoples Day

The Tsuut'ina First Nation marked National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 with the official unveiling of its new high school — the first on the reserve that borders southwest Calgary.

Manyhorses High School has been open since last fall, but COVID-19 delayed ceremony

An opening celebration of Manyhorses High School on the Tsuut'ina Reserve was held on June 21. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

The Tsuut'ina First Nation marked National Indigenous Peoples Day with the official unveiling of its new high school — the first on the reserve that borders southwest Calgary.

Around 120 students in Grades 9-12 have been attending Manyhorses High School since last fall. But when the 43,000-square-foot facility first opened, a ceremony celebrating it was postponed because of COVID-19.

Steven Crowchild, a councillor representative for the Tsuut'ina First Nation Education Board of Trustees, said that though he wished the celebration could have happened sooner, it's a great day for the community.

"I'm just excited to revitalize the Indigenous brilliance and Indigenous teachings," Crowchild said Monday. "I feel like we have a lot to share with the world."

First high school on reserve

Prior to $18-million facility opening, high school students on the Tsuut'ina Reserve attended a crowded junior/senior high school, or had the option to go to a school off reserve. 

That latter option remains, but principal Jeff Horvath hopes Tsuut'ina Nation families consider sending their teens to Manyhorses, to what he said is a state-of-the-art facility with tailored cultural and language programs.

Before the high school opened, Tsuut'ina students had the option to attend a crowded junior/senior high school or go to a school off reserve. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

"Our program is Tsuut'ina specific," said Horvath. "I've served in public education, and they offer some great programming, but sometimes it's so big and our kids can get lost in those settings."

Horvath believes education — when done properly — can help heal Indigenous people from the past traumas related to the residential school system.

With files from Colleen Underwood