On October 7, 2016, students, community members, leaders and Mi’kmaw language advocates gathered at Essissoqnikewey Siawa’sik-l’nuey Kina’matinewo’kuo’m (ESK) in Eskasoni to celebrate the Grand Opening of their Immersion School. ESK is the realization of a distant dream of what Mi’kmaq education could look like when Eskasoni took local control of their education in 1980. Determination and foresight led their
former director the late Marian Paul and a handful of educators to start up the immersion program in the elementary school sixteen years ago. Since then, the immersion program has expanded, succeeded and grown into this historic standalone school.
“I am filled with pride at what the Eskasoni School Board has created today. Every time I enter this building, I feel the sense of home, comfort and ease that come from being surrounded by the language,” expressed Elizabeth Cremo, Eskasoni Education Director. “I think the immersion school is a living breathing tribute to honour our people who attended the residential school; a place where our language and culture are treasured and passed on to the next generation with pride. “ Attendees of the grand opening were delighted to be given a guided tour of the building by students who showed great pride in their school. This was followed by performances by the school drum group and dancers. They also heard from several speakers who spoke about the importance of having a school where students have the opportunity to hear Mi’kmaw being spoken all day.
Students have been attending school in the old TEC building since last fall. The school accommodates over 120 students from K4 – Grade 4. They have a small gym, music classes, a kitchen, and complete immersion in all subjects.