Fishing Lake First Nation to break ground for new, much-needed school in 2018

Fishing Lake First Nation will no longer have to teach students in small, cramped portable units.

School will replace 6 portable units

Fishing Lake First Nation students attend class, Jan. 23, 2008, at their reserve school in Saskatchewan. (Troy Fleece/Canadian Press)

The Fishing Lake First Nation is excited about a new school building that will replace six portable units in the next two years. 

One of those portables is a kitchen and the other is used for kindergarten and half-day classes for special education students.

"Some of the classrooms are smaller than others," said Melanie Laplante, principal of the school which houses 71 students.

Chief Derek Sunshine received a letter from Indigenous and Northern Affairs last week which said the project would go ahead despite paperwork which has yet to be completed. The school is expected to be completed in the next two years.

The new school is a long-time coming. A treaty land entitlement agreement which included a new school was discussed with the federal government around 2008. Due to bureaucratic red tape, the process has been delayed up until now.

"The challenges are there to be able to, as one teacher, to teach and get across to those three grades your curriculum — exactly what you want academically for them to know getting out of the first grade," Laplante said. 

Three buses take more than one hundred students to off-reserve schools due to lack of capacity within the current units. The school's groundbreaking is expected to happen sometime in the spring of 2018.

Fishing Lake First Nation is a Saulteaux community located about 200 kilometres northeast of Regina. 

With files from the CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition