Jun. 19, 2017
This is a place of healing and hope. – Alberta Health Services Staff Member
This is a place of reconciliation. This is reconciliation. - Parent
This is significant; it means much more than a new school opening. – Community Member
The Aboriginal Learning Centre (which will have its new name through Indigenous ceremony this week) welcomed hundreds of people to its official opening on May 4. All were welcomed into a beautiful space reflecting Indigenous ways of knowing and being throughout its design.
Beside the school, Elder Randy Bottle and community members were seen constructing a tipi. Inside, an interactive ‘story walk’ provided an opportunity for guests to smudge or ‘cleanse’ as they entered.
In the family room, everyone was invited to sample traditional teas made from various Indigenous plants. Around the circular corridors, students provided opportunities for guests to learn Indigenous languages.
A newly created story robe showed the seven year story journey of the ALC. In the inspiring central gathering space, the Turning Robe singers performed the morning song that they had previous gifted to the school, while students delighted visitors with traditional dance. Next to the indoor seed sprouting and growing station, guests planted sage seeds that will become part of the outdoor sacred garden.
During the formal program, Elder Leonard Bastien provided a blessing and spoke of his hopes for students and community. Chief Superintendent David Stevenson and Board Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre presented the school with a traditional hand drum which was banged in honour of the official opening. Education Minister, David Eggen proudly attended and shared his best wishes on behalf of the Government of Alberta. The event closed with a round dance and the gifting of a carved stone to each guest.
This incredible new space serves as a school for holistic early learning for Indigenous students ages 3-8, a place of learning for all through it’s collaborative learning opportunities and a place of gathering for all through it’s offerings on evenings and weekends.
The official opening celebration highlighted how the Aboriginal Learning Centre is a gathering place for all. It was truly a positive community event that created a great sense of hope for the future in all who attended.