Enoch Cree Nation is celebrating the grand opening of the Maskêkosak Kiskinomâtowikamik school.
The school, which will serve kids from K-12, is located on the Edmonton-area First Nation and was officially opened in a special ceremony on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a blessing to have a beautiful school such as this, the innovation that is behind it, the history that is represented within the building as well,” said Darcella Kasokeo, the education director for the Kitaskinaw Education Authority.
The school broke ground in April 2018, after receiving a $22.5-million investment from the Government of Canada. The Enoch Cree Nation contributed an additional $1.5 million.
Chief Billy Morin of Enoch Cree Nation says he believes the school connects all government, and all Canadians with the Enoch people.
“This is a very special day,” Morin said.
“This new school is really symbolic of the treaty relationship… coming together to get a project for our young people, so they can move forward together as partners in this territory and land.”
Maskêkosak Kiskinomâtowikamik has features specifically tailored to the Enoch Nation, such as the Cree language being featured throughout the design as well as the curriculum.
There will also be lessons specific to the First Nation, like a teacher who is focused on land-based learning.
“Our students [are] brought out onto the land,” Kasokeo said. “Yesterday they were plucking geese.
“Our kids are very engaged with having an understanding of the teachings that come with being out on the land.”
The old school was built in 1973, with modular classrooms added to accommodate the growing student population.
The newly opened building has a capacity of 420 students, with 390 currently enrolled, and more expected to join.
“Lots of our students go to city schools and they want to come back here now, which is really great,” Morin said.
Enoch Cree Nation borders the west side of Edmonton.