After 20 years in temporary units, Ntámłqən Snm̓aʔm̓áyaʔtn Band School will be getting a permanent new home next to the Lower Similkameen Indian Band office.
“This has been a long-time coming, and it’s very exciting,” said Chief Keith Crow of the LSIB. “We have over 40 kids in the school, and the initial build was going to be for 60, but we’re already looking at expanding and trying to get to 80.”
Ground officially broke on the construction of the new 1,145 square-metre school on Sept. 8, with members of the band council, school staff, contractors, and students past, present and future there to mark the occasion.
The build will provide space not only for the existing elementary and early education programs, but will also allow for the opportunity of expansion to meet the future needs of the community.
The timing of the new school couldn’t have been better with a boom of new children that will be entering it as the new building gets completed.
The LSIB recently reopened their Teepee Tots daycare program, and the spaces quickly filled up and turned to a waiting list.
In addition to the education spaces, the new school facility will include space for the LSIB’s education administration.
The school has been open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in the surrounding area from junior kindergarten up to Grade seven.
In addition to the BC Curriculum, the school provides Syilx language and cultural studies and has a resident Elder.
Having a new building will be a point of a pride, not only for the education the kids will be able to receive, but for the other opportunities the space will allow for future generations.
“Our gymnasium, that we rented in town since we were young, or basketball players are now enjoying themselves in our own gym and bringing back trophies and and banners,” said Rob Edwards, a past chief and member of the LSIB’s education board.”This is an awesome day to be here and to witness this, and one day when I’m gone and my granchildren are standing here, maybe they will be expanding our school,”
Indigenous Services Canada and the Ministry of Children and Families have contributed to the LSIB’s plan and construction of the permanent school facility, a project that has been in the works for the last decade.
Construction on the new school begins on Sept. 11 and is expected to take about 18 months.
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