The community of Eskasoni marked a milestone for Mi’kmaw Education this September when it opened it’s doors to the first ever Mi’kmaw Immersion School.
In order to get to such an important event, it took years of research and preparation behind the scenes. It began with a dream and through the hard work and dedication of many passionate community members, it has finally become a reality.
In the early 2000’s, the idea was put forward to offer an immersion class to a small group of students. Once this program was put in place, interest began to grow throughout the community and more and more parents wanted their children involved.
The program began to extend from one small class of immersion students to include students from K-4 through to grade 4. Due to this increasing interest in the program, staff and language specialists began to discuss the idea of having a separate school for their immersion students.
The main reason for this request was so the students attending immersion classes would hear Mi’kmaq at all times in school. It would be used for school announcements, on the playground, in the hallways and encouraged by all teachers in student communication with each other and staff. Finally in the spring of 2015, it was announced that the school would open its doors in September.
The new school is located in the old TEC building and it accommodates over 120 students from K4 - Grade 4. They have a small gym, music classes, a kitchen, and complete immersion in all subjects. In the near future, there will be an expansion of the building and a new playground will be in place.
As expected with any new program, there have been some “growing pains”. The bussing has been a challenge and the lunch program is not yet up and running but parents have been very supportive of the situation and have been helping out in any way they can.
Ida Denny, Principal of the Immersion School expressed extreme gratitude to everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible.
“We couldn’t have done it without the help of so many people. We have TLE right here in the school and they provide us with so many resources. We have also had great support from our Education Office, community and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey.”
Everyone is very proud of the community of Eskasoni for taking such an important step toward the preservation and revitalization of the Mi’kmaw Language. Congratulations!