A group of children wearing traditional style skirts and clothing stand in front of a sign with a picture of the new school on it

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation celebrates the ground breaking of its new elementary school

Date

Pic River, ON – Biigtigong Nishnaabeg is extremely pleased to celebrate the groundbreaking of its new elementary school (kindergarten to grade 8) in the community in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada and the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC).

The Government of Canada has committed an investment of $25.8 million to support the new school. The government of Canada, along with the OFNTSC, is working in close partnership with Biigtigong leadership to ensure the project is successful.

Darko Demitrijevic, Melanie Debassige, Daniel Michano and Glen Goodman stand in front of the construction site and sign for the new school
From Left to Right: Darko Demitrijevic OFNTSC Project Manager, Melanie Debassige OFNTSC Executive Director, Daniel Michano Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Capital Project Manager, and Glen Goodman, Director of Operations at OFNTSC. 

The new school facility has a floor area of 2,780 square meters (29,924 square feet) and is sized to accommodate a student population of 175. The construction of this new facility will relieve the overcrowding issue at the existing school and eliminate the need for portables. This modern teaching facility will be used as a launchpad for Biigtigong youth to begin their pursuit of their dreams while also acting as a conduit where precious cultural heritage can be imparted to the next generation. The new school includes extensive site development including a bus dropoff loop, softball field, asphalt basketball court, playground, walking trails, outdoor classrooms and a storage garage. The school will also include its own below-ground water reservoir and fire pump system for sprinkler protection.

Quotes

“Congratulations to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation for breaking ground on a new kindergarten to grade 8 elementary school. Your decades of commitment to the success of your children has inspired us all, and your new school will help generations of young people access good education and set them up for a bright future. I look forward to hearing about the amazing successes of your young people for generations to come.”

- The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services

“The people of Biigtigong are happy to see the start of construction of their new school. We would like to thank the Federal Government for their assistance and to Minister Hajdu for her advocacy on this important project. The new school will allow our students and staff to learn and work in an environment that is culturally appropriate and is something that they can be proud of. I also want to thank the planning team for all their hard work to make this happen. Miigwetch.”

- Duncan Michano, Chief Biigtigong Nishnaabeg

“We are so pleased to congratulate Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation on the ground breaking of their new elementary school. Education is the cornerstone of our society and this new building will provide a bright space where young Indigenous students can feel inspired to grow and achieve their full potential. We support this work proudly and will continue to provide our services throughout the remainder of the project.”

- Melanie Debassige, Executive Director of OFNTSC

“This is a milestone day for the community of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg. The groundwork is being laid where this generation and future generations can build a bright future; one centered around their own culture as Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation people. Our children bring out the best in us – what an incredible gift this community is making to their children here, today. Congratulations to each and every member of this Community and to Chief and Council for your relentless vision in pursuing this project. We are excited to be part of the team bringing this vision to reality.”

- Joe Cospito, Project Manager, Keewatin-Aski Ltd.

Quick facts

  • Biigtigong is located on the north shore of Lake Superior, along Pic River, approximately 300 km east of Thunder Bay.
  • The current Biigtigong School was constructed in the 1950s. An entire generation has come and gone without a new school.
  • The new school will be located west of the daycare, across the street from the new Health Centre. This site has plenty of space to accommodate the sports facilities and outdoor education program right in its backyard. 
  • Biigtigong is heavily involved in the construction of their own school, contributing labour, equipment and materials to ensure maximum economic opportunity for the community.
  • Construction of the new school is expected to be completed by fall 2023.