KIIZHIK SCHOOL TO EXPLORE K-12 EXPANSION
Feasibility Study funding approved for successful urban First Nation school
KENORA, ON. JUNE 12, 2017: Kiizhik School has announced it will move forward with a feasibility study for the construction of a new K-12 school facility. The proposed school would expand the urban Anishinaabe school to accommodate up to 500 students.
Kiizhik was founded by Bimose Tribal Council in 2015 and is the first urban Anishinaabe school in Ontario. Kiizhik provides classes for Anishinaabe students in Kenora and the surrounding area who live both on and off reserve.
The vision of Bimose’s Elders and leaders was to establish an Anishinaabe school to teach and practice its culture, language, and traditions in an academic setting. Anishinaabe prayers, songs, language and traditions are built into the curriculum. Monthly pow-wows and feasts involving student families are common. The school has been visited by over 15 organizations from across Canada and one organization from Australia. The school is considered an exemplary instructional model.
“Kiizhik represents a fundamental change in urban First Nations education where being Anishinaabe is celebrated and children’s hope is restored. The success of our school is undeniable. Children are fully immersed in our language and traditions and our high school students are graduating at an unprecedented rate” said Lorraine Cobiness, Chief of Ochiichagwe’babigo’ining Ojibway Nation.
“Since attending Kiizhik School, I have seen my children grow and identify with who they are as Anishinaabe. To see them so comfortable in their own skin is comforting. I am proud that my kids are learning the language and culture that many of us have lost in addition to the standard curriculum. Every day, I rest easy a little easier knowing that our culture is being passed on to the students at Kiizhik School.”
Currently, Kiizhik Education Corporation (KEC) operates in a renovated school that has limited capacity. Based on program expansion and projected enrolment, the current building will run out of space in about three years. The feasibility study will look at a location, cost and initial structural design for a K-12 school. It will also include community consultation with local First Nations and agencies to determine additional needs for the facility outside of education. It is anticipated that the school will be built to house 400-500 students.
“The staff at Bimose Tribal Council and Kiizhik Education Corporation are currently exploring potential sites for the new school building” said Bernice Major, who leads the Parent Council and also has children attending Kiizhik. “Staff are also consulting with the Kiizhik Parent-Council and Elder to determine what new programs should be included in the new school, such aspartnerships with daycare and training providers to create a life-long learning environment.”
Kiizhik was originally financed using First Nation assets as equity with no government subsidies involved. In its first year, Kiizhik’s enrolment was 20 students with an attendance rate over 95%. The school expanded to add additional grades each year as the student body progressed. The proposed expansion marks another milestone in the school’s continued growth.
The Bimose Tribal Council Tech Service staff will conduct the study. A project committee made by the school Parent Council has been established to lead community discussions and develop an initial report that will be included in the final study. A school community meeting is scheduled for Monday June 26th, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. during registration night Kiizhik School. The study is expected to conclude by the end of June 2017.
Kiizhik School first opened its doors in Kenora in September 2015 with 15 children from Kindergarten to Year 2 after negotiations by the Bimose Tribal Council in Kenora with provincial education authorities to open the first school of its kind in Ontario. As of 2016, the school has grown to now offer classes up to grade 4; and will continue adding new grades each year of operation.
For more information, please contact Don Morrison at bimose%23ca|dmorrison