February 22, 2024

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VERNON – Today, the Okanagan Indian Band held a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the construction of a new Okanagan Indian Band Cultural Immersion Elementary School. When complete, the new facility will provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for future generations to come. Students can thrive while embracing the Sqilxw language and culture as well as all forms of academic success.

Located on Okanagan Indian Reserve #1, the new school will replace the aging and outgrown Cultural Immersion School building. The new school’s seven classrooms, gymnasium, library, kitchen, language, culture and administration areas will support the Okanagan Indian Band in expanding a culturally appropriate learning environment for the community’s kindergarten (age 4) to grade 7 students.

Working in partnership with the community, the Government of Canada has committed $19.3 million to this important school project. The Okanagan Indian Band will contribute $2.85 million.

“We are pleased to break ground for the new school. At the heart of our traditions, we Syilx nurture the roots of wisdom. Our Cultural Immersion School—nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət—is a place where heritage becomes the compass guiding future leaders on a journey of knowledge, respect, and unity. The work leading up to this groundbreaking ceremony for the new school relied on the determination and support of OKIB elders, parents, educators, and community members. Now, it’s time to build the new school to provide a positive place of learning for our students,” said Byron Louis, Chief of the Okanagan Indian Band.

The new Okanagan Indian Band Cultural Immersion School is expected to open for students in September 2025.

Source: Indigenous Services Canada

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