PIC RIVER, ON (December 9, 2021) – Biigtigong Nishnaabeg is extremely pleased to announce the construction of a new elementary school (kindergarten to grade 8) in the community in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada. 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 facility will be constructed with a high-efficiency building envelope, HVAC systems, and will include modern technology and teaching environments which have been tailored to fit the First Nation’s educational needs. The school will include the following features:
- 8 large classrooms
- Classroom and support offices for special education delivery
- Cafeteria and kitchen
- Large traditional learning classroom
- Community gym with volleyball, basketball and badminton courts
- Stage for performing arts
- Administration and staff area
- Multiple large storage areas
The new school includes extensive site development including a bus drop off loop, softball field, asphalt basketball court, playground, walking trails, outdoor classrooms and storage garage. The school will also include its own below-ground water reservoir and fire pump system for sprinkler protection.
The Government of Canada has committed an investment of $25.8 million to support the new school and is working in close partnership with Biigtigong leadership to ensure the project is successful. Construction is set to begin in winter/spring of 2022 and is expected to be completed by summer 2023.
Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and the following project team members offered comments regarding this pivotal milestone:
“I am pleased to hear that the new Biigtigong Elementary School has been approved for construction. The children and people of Biigtigong have waited a long time for this. The new school will be a source of learning and pride for all the youth as they start their learning path through life. I wish them all success as they continue on that journey. I want to also commend everyone who took part in the planning and financing of the New School for a job well done. Miigwetch.”
- Duncan Michano, Chief Biigtigong Nishnaabeg
“Our team at the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation was honored to contribute to the initial stages of this project, and are committed to serving the community with the upcoming construction phase.”
- Melanie Debassige, OFNTSC.
“Keewatin-Aski is thrilled to be working with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and helping them to achieve this dream. As a Project Manager, there is nothing more fulfilling than working together as a team to deliver a project such as this which will help the next generation grow and thrive. We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Biigtigong Nishnaabeg on this milestone accomplishment.”
- Joe Cospito, Keewatin-Aski Ltd.
“Education is the key to opening doors for First Nations youth. Supporting the construction of a new, modern learning facility in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg will ensure the best possible learning environment for the community’s growing student population. We are proud to partner with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation on this project and look forward to the completion of the new school.”
- The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Indigenous Services
- 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 will be heavily involved in the construction of their own school, contributing labour, equipment and materials to ensure maximum economic opportunity for the community.
- The Government of Canada has committed $25.8 million dollars to the Project to make it a reality.