14 Wednesday December 2 2015 EDUCATION SELF-GOVERNANCE 6.8103 in x 6.3125 in By DALI CARMICHAEL Mikisew Cree First Nation MCFN has an- nounced its intention to start up a new school onitsreserveadjacenttoFortChipewyanAlta. ThemovemarksanewstepawayfromNorth- lands School Division NSD and towards self- governance for the northern Albertan band. We have to be able to set our curriculum the way it meets our needs said Mikisew Chief Steve Courtoreille. Our children are not understanding the Cree language not knowing how to speak the language. We could set our own curriculum the way it meets the needs for our future. The band also decided to take control over the education of its youth because its mem- bers were unhappy with chronic low student attendance and achievement rates. I dont want to badmouth Northlands but they havent delivered the quality of education thewaytheyshouldCourtoreillenoted.Ican understandinpreviousyearswhereyoungpeople left school for other reasons mainly going out trappingandgoingouttothelandthatwasun- derstandable.Buttodayourchildrenarefalling through the cracks theyre not being given the quality of education that they need. The plan to start a new school has been in the works for some time he noted explain- ing that the NSD had been helpful and sup- portive throughout the initial process. The First Nation has wanted their own school and actually weve been involved with them for well over a year now said North- land superintendent Donna Barrett. This is something theyve wanted and were working with them to make that transition work. Weve been on a committee with membership from the federal government and both of the First Nations to support them in their conversa- tions about getting a new school. It is unclear what will be in store for the NSDs Athabasca Delta Community School. The future of the ADCS will lay with the community Barrett said. Were still a few years away from actually getting a school and so well continue to provide support to the stu- dents and provide education for the students. A place for all students The school is not only going to be for the Mikisew people or Mikisew youth its for the community Courtoreille said. The other rst nation the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation ACFN are welcome the Mtis people are welcome any other students that may come into the community are welcome to come to the school. However he said curriculum will be devel- oped with MCFN youth in mind with input from the residents of Fort Chipewyan. Cree immersion and history classes centred around the experience of the First Nation will be top priority in the new curriculum. Eventually other Dene languages - like Chipewyan - will likely be worked into the classrooms to make the school more invit- ing for ACFN youth. ACFN is not in partnership because if they decide to develop one of their reserve lands they will have the ability to build their own school that will take them out of the community onto their own territory Courtoreille said. We want to respect that and they are supportive and respectful to us. Prioritizing the trades and opening up ap- prenticeship opportunities for students will also be a focus for the new school. Currently the band is working out the basic logistics of the school including location and curriculum development. Were looking at three different sites in our traditional territory where the old Bishop Piche school was is one of the sites were very interested in Courtoreille said. That site is a prioritybutwerelookingatothersitesincase that land is not suitable for this day and age. ThebandhascontractedMCFNeducatorRoy Vermillion to develop the schools operational plansaswellastoprovideadvisoryassistance in the design and building of the school. Slatedtoopenin2018thenewschoolwilljoin alistofabout500othersaroundthecountryin- cludedundertheAboriginalAffairsandNorth- ern Development Canada AANDC envelope. Its not a hope its not a dream Cour- toreille said. Its going to be achieved. Mikisew Cree plan alternative school in Fort Chip PhotocourtesyofAthabascaDeltaCommunitySchool The Athabasca Delta Community School will continue to operate as-is.