Chief Tony Alexis and Seamus O'Regan, minister of Indigenous Services, participated in a sod turning ceremony at Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in Alberta July 17. The event marked the official start of construction of the new junior-senior high school in the community.
"Over the last two years, my council and staff have worked alongside the federal government for a new school. When education was introduced to our people through residential schools. it was done terribly,” said Alexis.
“The new school will facilitate learning, space for ceremony and room to expand our programming. This will allow our youngest members to become masters of the institutions while still celebrating and preserving our beautiful culture."
The new school will also address overcrowding issues at the current school, and will provide more career and technology studies options to prepare the First Nation students for post-secondary education and employment opportunities.
The Nation itself has contributed $2.6 million to expand the gymnasium so it can serve as a recreation centre for the entire community. The school will be ready for students in September 2021.
"We're working with First Nations to address the gap in education outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” said the minister.
“I want to congratulate Chief Tony Alexis, the council and community of the First Nation. Mostly, though, I want to congratulate the students and future students who will benefit from the new school that will help to prepare them for success in all their future endeavours."
Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is located approximately 90 km northwest of Edmonton. There are more than 1,150 members that live on the reserve, and more than 160 students enrolled in elementary and secondary school.
Photos by Brad Crowfoot.