Children in Nanaimo will be able to learn about Snuneymuxw culture as the First Nation proceeds with the building of a new school.
Snuneymuxw members held a groundbreaking ceremony at the new Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School site Tuesday at Stuywut Street in Cedar. The current school at Centre Street is 20 years old and the quarters are getting cramped.
Roxanne Harris, school principal, said the curriculum will follow B.C. Ministry of Education guidelines, but students will also learn the Hul’qumi’num language.
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“We have our own Hul’qumi’num language teacher, so she does language and culture, so she’ll teach them songs, they drum and they also learn the curriculum,” said Harris. “She has different levels of the Hul’qumi’num language that she teaches to them and every year they participate in a (language) competition with the school district.”
Harris said the school will be open to indigenous students and all students as well.
“Ideally what we’re going to do is recruit students from the broader community and have a different busing schedule when we move here because we have 56 kids now and the idea is to get up to about 100 kids,” said Harris.
Construction on the 1,814-square-metre building is expected to begin in April with an anticipated completion time of April 2019.
Harris said Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh means strong children.
“So we’re building strong children, not muscles, but it means building strong children for their minds, their culture, the pride of who they are as Snuneymuxw, or if we get children who aren’t from Snuneymuxw, we build them up strong to believe in who they are and where they come from … our belief is after they leave us in Grade 7 they go on to the high school that they’re strong enough to make it to Grade 12 and go on to post-secondary.”
The $10.7 million for construction comes from the federal government.