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Local Controlled School After Years Of Struggle

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1975      v05 n05 p02  
Sturgeon Lake - The official opening of temporary classroom facilities recently took place after many years of struggle for a community school of their own to fulfill the education needs of the Sturgeon Lake Band.

Trailers and houses that will eventually be used for staff living quarters are being used for classrooms to accommodate children from kindergarten to grade 12, until the construction of permanent facilities.

The band has been struggling for a school on the reserve since 1969, with very little success until now. According to Chief Harold Kingfisher, "We had been turned down quite a few times, because our children were entered in a joint school system, they kept telling us it was coming next year."

In the past, children from Sturgeon Lake have been in the joint school system where the achievements of Indian people were ignored while those of Europeans were glorified. The child's background and needs were completely ignored in the joint school system.

The Chief and band council have been working closely with the people on a "partnership concept" in their negotiations with Indian Affairs in Ottawa and with the Saskatchewan Region for the school.

Although some of the children from the reserve are still enrolled in a joint school, a recent survey showed that about 97 per cent of the population of the reserve want their children to be educated right on the reserve.

A school committee made up of members of the band, along with an education consultant and an education co-ordinator, have developed a curriculum suited to the needs of the children, which includes Cree Language Instruction, Indian History, Indian culture and religion.

Plans for the school call for classrooms, labs, shops, a library, a lounge, reading rooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, auditorium and a day care centre.

In addition to the regular teaching staff, an equal number of teacher assistants from the band have been hired. The school calls for a total community involvement in the education of the children.

"The temporary school will he used until we have a workable system to justify any expenditure for Major construction", Chief Kingfisher said.

Ribbon cutting
R.M. Connelly, Director of Community Affairs, DIAND, Ottawa, is shown cutting the ribbon, offically opening the temporary school at Sturgeon Lake. FSI Chief David Ahenakew and Chief Harold Kingfisher of Sturgeon Lake Band look on.