The Bimose Tribal Council's Kiizhik School has expanded into Northwest Angle 33 First Nation.
The expansion ends a 20-year drought in education services in Northwest Angle 33 since its last school closed.
Andy Graham, director of education at Bimose, explains why they've arrived in the remote First Nation community located on Lake of the Woods across from Angle Inlet, Minnesota.
“They were finding that because there wasn't a school there, many of the community members were leaving because it is an isolated community,” Graham says. “The students who were there had to get up at five in the morning and take a boat or cross the ice road across the international border in Minnesota to go to school there or in Manitoba. So it was almost a 12-hour day for the students.”
Kiizhik School first opened its doors in Kenora in September 2015 with 15 children from Kindergarten to Grade 2 and is the first school of its kind in Ontario. The school has grown to offer classes up to Grade 4 and enrolment has increased to 50 children, with the expectation of continuing to add new grades each year.
In addition, the alternative education program has resulted in approximately 10 new high school graduates in each of its first two years of full operation.
The satellite school in Northwest Angle 33 started in February and already has 15 students enrolled.
“We're very excited about this opportunity because we think it could be a model that can be used in other communities that may have a remote or smaller school population,” Graham says. “ Also, video conferencing and computers is something we're going to be offering in the fall.”
Graham added they also plan to have their language immersion curriculum, which is currently used at Kiizhik School in Kenora, ready for the fall.
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