The Westbank First Nation officially has more learning space for teachers and students.
The community’s $9 million sənsisyustən House of Learning elementary school was unveiled today by First Nation council member Jordan Coble, Westbank First Nation Chief Chris Derickson and other prominent community leaders.
The renovated facility on Quail Road means there are an additional five classrooms to enroll up to 60 more students in the space each year. A new language and computer room, a new learning assistance room, and three hundred rooftop solar panels worth $150,000 are other new amenities added to the facility after the year-long renovation.
Coble said today that the new space gives education a whole new sense of meaning in the community.
“All students that attend this school, indigenous or non-indigenous, they will know what it means to be Okanagan. I want to give a huge shoutout to everyone that supports culture and language learning and the transmission of knowledge that is coming to our young ones. This a day of celebration.”
Chief Derickson highlighted that the opening of the renovated facility today will play a large part in language reviatalization.
“This is a momentous occasion. The new spaces means we can now double our class size, while still have one teacher for every 18 students. Most importantly, the (school) will help us to teach our language, which is endangered. We’re hoping this school will one day become a full immersion nsyilxcən language school.”
Greyback Construction, a local Kelowna company, was also chosen to provide most of the renovation work at the facility.
From the total project, over $6.6 million was provided by the Indigenous Service Canda’s innovation fund and almost $1.5 million was invested into the project by the Westbank First Nation.