By Brittney Pastion
The sod turning ceremony for a new school was held at the Paul First Nation June 6. The Nation is located 60 km west of Edmonton.
The event was opened with a pipe ceremony with Elders and representatives from Indian Affairs.
Paul Nation leadership and community members were in attendance, including students that will one day roam the halls of the new school.
Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott congratulated leadership in a news release that said “this school will provide invaluable opportunities for the children of Paul First Nation to reach their full potential.”
Currently, the nation has an enrollment that exceeds the current school facility, said Executive Band Manager Steve Kulmatycki.
The new school, designated from K to 9, will include programming from Stoney Nakota and Cree backgrounds.
The project began five years ago with a request for funds when the school became overcrowded with about 470 students.
An $18.6 million fund from Indigenous Services Canada will go towards school construction and $800,000 for a dedicated space for a Head Start program.
Construction on the new school begins now, with a tentative opening date scheduled for September 2019.
Paul First Nation will also be opening a new fire hall, water treatment upgrade system and a solar farm.
A solar panel project coming soon will produce a revenue stream, said Kulmatycki, “and with any luck provide our residents of the nation with low cost electricity.”