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Okanagan Indian Band breaks ground on cultural immersion school

DCN-JOC News Services
Okanagan Indian Band breaks ground on cultural immersion school

OKANAGAN INDIAN BAND, VERNON, B.C. – The Okanagan Indian Band held a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 22 to celebrate the start of construction of a new cultural immersion school.

The Okanagan Indian Band Cultural Immersion Elementary School will provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for future generations where students can learn the Sqilxw language, an Okanagan Indian Band release said.

“We are pleased to break ground for the new school. At the heart of our traditions, we Syilx nurture the roots of wisdom. Our Cultural Immersion School — nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət — is a place where heritage becomes the compass guiding future leaders on a journey of knowledge, respect, and unity.,” said Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis in a statement.

“The work leading up to this groundbreaking ceremony for the new school relied on the determination and support of OKIB elders, parents, educators, and community members. Now, it’s time to build the new school to provide a positive place of learning for our students.”

The new school will replace the aging and outgrown Cultural Immersion School building with seven classrooms, a gymnasium, library, kitchen, language, culture and administration areas for the community’s kindergarten (age 4) to Grade 7 students. Funding for the project also supports demolition of the old school once the new school is built.

The Government of Canada has committed $19.3 million to the project and the Okanagan Indian Band will contribute $2.85 million.

The existing Okanagan Indian Band Cultural Immersion School has been in operation since 2006, growing from a kindergarten to Grade 3 program to a full elementary program encompassing kindergarten to grade 7, the release said.

The new school is expected to open for students in September 2025.

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