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Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation Turns Sod on New School Site

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History was made at the Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation (WSFN) on Thursday (Aug. 15) when the lobbying and hard work of many chief and councils came to fruition as the community gathered to see the sod turn for the new school that is set to open in 2020.
It’s a moment the WSFN has been waiting a long time for as the school that currently houses their education was built as a temporary school back in 1994.
“This is such a beautiful day and a great day for our children,” said WSFN Chief Elwood Zastre as he welcomed all to the event.
The celebration started with a pipe ceremony in a teepee set up at the new school site before the opening prayer and words from the Chief and council were heard.
Grand Chief Arlen Dumas from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs was in attendance to pay his respects to the hard work from the past, present and the future work that will go into ensuring the children of WSFN have a bright future ahead of them.
“Previous leadership did a lot,” said Zastre. “They started the ball rolling. Each one took over from the last and it carried on. When we got in (leadership) in 2012 we really put the pressure on them because we had to.”
Zastre commented on the state the current school is in and the challenges the children face daily that interferes with their education.
“Our children were sitting in school in January with coats on in their classroom,” he said noting that there weren’t enough plug-ins to keep the heaters running consistently enough to warm them.
“And then I’d see them outside sliding on a little hill that we put there for them to play on and that’s all they had,” he said. “They had no gymnasium, no place to play. This school that you’re going to see here, it has a gymnasium for our children.”
The crowd roared with applause as chatter continued throughout, imagining the smiles on the children’s faces when they walk into that room.
“Our children are going to be so happy,” said Zastre.
Gifts were given to special guests that helped the Chief get through the obstacles to ensure the school was a reality for the children of WSFN before Chief, council and Elders gathered together to turn the first patch of soil with a gold plated shovel.
“We’re making this a better place for our people,” concluded Zastre.
Construction of the school is beginning with the clearing of land before foundation is laid on what will be a beautiful campus.
The new school site is expected to house a school, teacher housing, a generous play area and the gymnasium that the community is so excited for.
The grand opening is expected to take place in time for the 2020 school year to begin.

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Jakki Lumax
REPORTER
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