Thunder Bay

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

Youth in Kingfisher Lake First Nation will soon be doing their learning in a brand-new school. Crews have broken ground and are working to have it ready by the fall of 2023.

'It's so important to be able to control our own programming,' says Chief Lott Sainnawap

Construction is underway on a new school at Kingfisher Lake First Nation. The new building will replace the existing school, which was built in 1971. (Shibogama First Nations Council/Supplied)

Youth in Kingfisher Lake First Nation will soon be doing their learning in a brand-new school.

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

It's something that's 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 has had to be shut down because of that in the past. In addition, it only accommodates students up to Grade 8.

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

"One wing will be for the elementary, one wing will be for for high school, up the Grade 10," Sainnawap said. "In between, there'll be a cafeteria, a gym."

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

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

The new building will also include eight classrooms, a traditional learning classroom, an elder's 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 programming that we can control, we have we should be able to maintain the language and keep our culture going."

Construction of the school is expected to be complete next summer, with students attending classes there starting in fall of 2023.

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