Chief Whitecap school opens in Saskatoon
- NC Raine | September 25, 2017
A new elementary school in Saskatoon bearing the name of one of Saskatoon's co-founders and most important figures has officially opened.
Chief Whitecap School, located in Saskatoon's Stonebridge community, is the product of a partnership and collaboration between Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Saskatoon Public Schools, and the federal and provincial governments. The new school consists of students in grades 5 – 8 from Whitecap Dakota First Nation, and Kindergarten to grade 8 students from Stonebridge.
“We believe [naming the school after Chief Whitecap] is a big step forward in reconciliation and moving forward,” Whitecap Dakota First Nation Councillor Dalyn Bear said at the grand opening of Chief Whitecap School.
The history behind the school's namesake is important for the kids to connect with, explained Bear.
“It's all about partnership and working together,” said Councillor Bear. “Moving forward with partnership hand-in-hand as a community, and work together as one nation.”
The school will provide the community and city a greater understanding of Dakota culture and history, as the federal government contributed $2.7 million to create a Dakota Culture Room. The school, which shares space with St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic School, will act as an important community hub in also offering multipurpose facilities and a childcare centre.
“Chief Whitecap School is the embodiment of community,” said Ray Morrison, Board Chair of Saskatoon Public Schools.
“(When choosing a name) we agreed this was a chance to set a tone for the students walking through these doors. We wanted names that demonstrated our schools' values: respect, excellence, joy, and responsibility. As a co-founder of this city, Chief Whitecap understood alliance and the benefit it could bring to us all.”
The occasion also marked a joint learning project between Whitecap Dakota First Nation and Saskatoon Public Schools in effort to educate students on Indigenous history, culture, and language. This curriculum will be introduced at Chief Whitecap School, and will be available to teachers throughout the division.
Chief Whitecap School displays some of these histories, including the legacy of Chief Whitecap, on its interpretative walls in the school’s entrance and culture room. Students from across Saskatoon will be invited to come to learn about Dakota history and the Indigenous history of the Stonebridge area. The panels were made after an investment by Canada 150.
“Our school is unlike any other in the province as we bring together the communities of Stonebridge and Whitecap Dakota First Nation in this innovative learning facility,” said Harold Robertson, Principal of Chief Whitecap School.
Chief Whitecap School can accommodate up to 850 and is one of four new schools introduced in Saskatoon this month.
“We are on a journey as a city towards building a good society – building on the work that has come before us and the work that goes ahead,” said Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clarke at the school's grand opening.
“This school, where we bring communities together and build relationships and become leaders together,” said Clarke. “It's going to be wonderful to see the life of this school unfold.”