New Innu School opens in Sheshatshiu

New Innu School opens in Sheshatshiu

An important milestone in a process of renewal of education for the Innu was marked today in Sheshatshiu with the official opening of the brand new Sheshatshiu Innu School. The modern school facility replaces the old Peenamin Mckenzie School and gives the Kindergarten to Grade 12 students an ideal learning environment.

In addition to increased classroom space, the new school has a larger gym, industrial arts facilities, a laboratory, a cafeteria and appropriate spaces for special needs students. « Community leaders have been involved from the start on this project, we provided an Innu Advisor to the architect in charge of the design » proudly explains Anastasia Qupee, Chief of Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation that piloted the project.

The Minister of Labrador Affairs, John Hickey, attended the joyous occasion, together with Dougal MacDonald, Associate Director General of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and other federal representatives, Innu leaders, members of the general public as well as students and school staff.

Deputy Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, Peter Penashue, a resident of Sheshatshiu, stated « Our children deserve a good education, one that is respectful of their culture and of their identity. We have gained control of our education system and the opening of the school is a symbol of this new beginning. » To reflect the unique character of the school, its façade features a design from a traditional Innu coat and the interior is decorated with Innu art and crafts.

The building cost approximately 14 million dollars and was financed by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Some 400 hundred students attend the school and there are 35 certified teachers on staff as well as 10 Innu staff.