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New education complex reflects community vision

Construction on Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Education Complex is expected to begin in summer of 2018
Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, formerly known as Pic River First Nation. (File photo).

BIIGTIGONG NISHNAABEG, Ont. - Construction has begun on a new and unique school in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, which will provide the community with education opportunities for everyone from children to adults.

Ground was broken in a ceremony last Thursday for the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Education Complex in the community formally known as Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation.  

Funding for the $24 million facility was secured through community fundraising and partnerships with public and private sectors, including the Department of Indigeous Services Canada and Barrick Gold.

“We know that education can change the outcomes for many generations to come and the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Education Complex will be an integral part of that change,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of employment, workforce development and labour, during the ground breaking ceremony.

“I look forward to being able to walk the halls of this innovative school one day soon. I am honoured to be a part of this sod turning ceremony to celebrate the hard work and vision of Biigtigong leaders and members to forge a strong foundation for the strength of their community.”

Construction on the actual facility will begin in August 2018 and an additional $4 million will be required to complete the complex, and future funding opportunities will be sought from government agencies and the private sector, as well as community fundraising initiatives.

The Education Complex will take the shape of an eagle, a unique design created by designer Bret Cardinal. The east wing of the facility will house a daycare and elementary school, the west wing will be the adult education and business centre, and the centre of the building will have a gymnasium, cafeteria, and ceremony space.

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Chief Duncan Michano said the new education complex will help grow the community even more, as well as provide opportunities to the youth to become future leaders.

“Over the years, we have continually worked hard to be innovative in order to become increasingly independent,” he said in a media release. “The Education Complex is simply the next step in our education footprint for the children, who are the future of our community.”

Retraction: Designer Bret Cardinal was initially identified as an architect, but is not a member of the Ontario Association of Architects.