The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) has commenced construction on a new Cultural Immersion Elementary School in Canada with a ground-breaking ceremony. 

The Government of Canada has allocated C$19.3m ($14.32m) to this educational project, underscoring its partnership with Indigenous communities.  

Additionally, the Okanagan Indian Band is contributing C$2.85m towards the construction. 

Okanagan Indian Band chief Byron Louis said: “We are pleased to break ground for the new school. At the heart of our traditions, we Syilx nurture the roots of wisdom.

“The work leading up to this ground-breaking 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.” 

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Located on Okanagan Indian Reserve #1, the new facility is set to replace the outdated Cultural Immersion School building. 

The new school is expected to offer a safe and inclusive learning environment for future generations, as well as embrace the Sqilxw language, culture, and more. 

It will feature seven classrooms, a gym, a library, a kitchen, and dedicated spaces for language, culture, and administration.  

These facilities are intended to help the OKIB enhance culturally tailored learning from preschool (age four) to grade seven. 

Canada Indigenous Services minister Patty Hajdu said: “The community’s hard work and leadership made this happen. Quality and culturally appropriate education is essential for children to have a fair chance of success.  

“We will be at First Nations’ side as they build new schools in accordance with their traditions and cultures.” 

The new OKIB Cultural Immersion School is anticipated to welcome students by September 2025.