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|For Chief Roy Bird (Standing here in the schoool's science lab), the new school meant much needed jobs for band members, a profitable venturee for the band owned construction company and a much needed community facitity. Chief Bird was a prime moving force in creating the school, a project many goverment employees believed was beyond the capabilities of the band|
For the Montreal Lake band, the official opening of their new school February 27 was indeed a dream come true. The band had not only gained a much needed facility, but it was also a project they had built themselves. The 2.6 million dollar structure was completed under budget almost two years to the date work began under the auspices of the Montreal Lake Construction Company, a band owned enterprise.
Chief Roy Bird said the building was clear evidence bands are capable of delivering such large projects. "If the Indian people put their minds to it they are capable of anything," he said. "We are a capable people." Chief Bird was given a standing ovation by over four hundred band members and invited guests during an evening banquet held in conjunction with the day's festivities.
Earlier in the day guests were given a guided tour of the new school. The school features a fully equipped gymnasium; a science lab; large offices; a computer/typewriter room and an industrial training facility.
Chief Bird stated that although the school is quite adequate for today's needs the band is expecting an enrollment of over four hundred within ten years. The school currently serves 278 students from kindergarten to grade twelve in eight classrooms, not including additional rooms in the former school.
As late as 1980, students enrolled in classes beyond grade eight were required to attend residential school in Prince Albert, forty miles to the south. The band has experienced an increase in higher grade graduates since these grades were offered on the reserve.
The only incident of the day occurred when a provincial wildlife officer phoned the band office concerned the band would be serving wild meat at the evening banquet. The official notified the band their evening meal would be in violation of existing provincial game laws. The band responded that the province had no jurisdiction on an Indian reserve. That evening the banquet was held. Chief Bird said the wild meat was delicious.