Mi’kmaw education in Nova Scotia marked another milestone today with the opening of a gymnasium at the Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni. The Mi’kmaw high school gymnasium is the first of its kind in the province.
“I am proud to celebrate the community’s investment in the health and wellness of our students,” said Eskasoni Education Director Elizabeth Cremo. “Healthy and active lifestyles are key to one’s self-esteem, academic performance, and self-actualization, and this gymnasium provides a safe, modern, and culturally-enriching facility for students of all interests and abilities to build these skills.”
Construction of the gymnasium began in early 2013 and employed 20 tradespeople from Eskasoni. The gymnasium will provide physical education programming for high school students, and will serve as a venue for sports, exercise, entertainment, arts, and culture for the community.
“Active lifestyles help prevent disease, improve mental health, and build positive habits within our youth,” said Chief Leroy Denny, Chairman of Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and Chief of Eskasoni First Nation. “Their health and wellness is a priority for our Chiefs, and this new facility provides the youth of Eskasoni with new opportunities and better access to achieve these positive lifestyles.”
Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High School opened in 1998 and educates over 200 grade ten, eleven and twelve students from Eskasoni and the surrounding area. The province’s only Mi’kmaw high school follows the Nova Scotia curriculum guide and supplements those with Mi’kmaq Language, Mi’kmaq Culture, and Mi’kmaq Studies courses. The first graduating class of the community’s Mi’kmaq Language Immersion Program will graduate this spring, and will see close to 30 students graduating fully bi-lingual in English and Mi’kmaq.
“The students and staff of Allison Bernard Memorial High School are thrilled about the new space and the opportunities it brings,” said Allison Bernard Memorial High School Principal Newell Johnson. “This new facility will have a significant impact in building these social and leadership skills.”
Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey invested $666,160 in the project.