The new $10 million school at Tlet’inqox (Anaham) First Nation is an investment the community can be proud of, said Chief Joe Alphonse.
“It is very well built,” Alphonse said. “We made sure we had the best carpenters and electricians and had a project manager on site. I demanded everything be built to code and beyond.”
The only portion saved from the old school was the gymnasium, which was built in 1981.
“When we went to tear the school down, the blueprints told us one thing, but we found they cut corners,” Alphonse said. “Where they should have used half inch pipe they used quarter inch pipe, things like that.”
During a celebration to mark the school’s opening held last week, a plaque was installed honouring Laura Sarah Mack who was the first person from the community to graduate from high school.
“It’s almost two-fold for us as First Nations,” Alphonse said. “There was a time when our people were not allowed to go beyond Grade 4. Later they were allowed to go to Grade 8, but after residential school we had the ability to go right up to Grade 12.”
When that change happened the first graduate was Mack, who graduated in 1967 in Kamloops.
Anaham has never had the ability to offer high school education, but Alphonse said they’d like to get there one day.
Right now the school is Kindergarten to Grade 7 and is run as an independent school, separate from School District 27.
The old school library, staff room and art room were salvaged and the plan is to strip them down to an open concept community space.
Any community meetings, art programs, or fundraising events will be able to take place in there.
“We want to have a lot of meetings and host people, but we don’t want to interfere with the every day operation of the school,” Alphonse added.