Eskasoni, Nova Scotia (August 14, 2012) – The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, today joined Chief Leroy Denny of the Eskasoni Band at a groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion of the Chief Allison M. Bernard Memorial High School gymnasium.
“The Harper Government is making investments that will ensure First Nation students enjoy the same education opportunities as other students in Canada,” said Minister Duncan. “Investments like the Eskasoni gymnasium expansion help to ensure students have access to good learning environments, which will help improve educational outcomes.”
This expansion will see the addition of a regulation high school gymnasium, storage rooms, change rooms and shower facilities. Currently, students and teachers must travel to a different location to be able to use a gym. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada will provide $1.5 million over five years through its regular capital funding toward the estimated $3.7 million project. The Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey will be providing approximately $2.1 million for the project, with the remainder being provided by the Eskasoni Band. Construction of the project will begin this month and is expected to be completed by spring 2013.
“The Eskasoni gymnasium expansion is not only an investment for our youth but this new gymnasium will also contribute to the social well-being of our community,” said Chief Denny. “Today is an historical day for our community and we are grateful and thankful for all the parties involved in making this a reality,” Chief Denny added, “I am a firm believer that an active community is a healthy community.”
“The gymnasium is necessary for the students of Eskasoni, as credits in physical education are a requirement of the Nova Scotia Department of Education for high school graduation,” said Eleanor Bernard, Executive Director, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. “This is very important for the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, as we would like all Mi’kmaw students to prepare for acceptance into any program for higher education in Nova Scotia or elsewhere.”
Over the last six years the Government has invested in on-reserve school infrastructure and in improving educational outcomes for First Nation students. Economic Action Plan 2012 committed an additional $275 million over three years to support First Nations education.
Eskasoni Band is located on Cape Breton Island, 40 kilometers southwest of Sydney, Nova Scotia. The community has 4,060 members, with an on-reserve population of 3,475.
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