Students at Gitwinksihlkw Elementary school are a step closer to having a gymnasium of their own.
Construction is underway, funded by a $6.3-million investment from the Province.
“We know that play and physical education are vital to student learning and development, including improved co-operation and leadership skills,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “We’re pleased to work in partnership with the Nisga’a Board of Education to build a gymnasium that not only meets the needs of students, but also the broader community. This project also contributes to efforts to build truth, equity and reconciliation into education across the province.”
Whiteside visited the Gitwinksihlkw Elementary school as part of her tour in the region to meet with the Nisga’a Lisims Government and talk about education for students in the Nass Valley. The new gym is designed to enhance services at the school and provide an event space for the larger community.
Sports teams, dance groups, educational conferences, the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority and other local groups will make use of the space. Community celebrations, such as the Nisga’a new year, Hoobiyee, will also be held in the gym, in addition to post-secondary training by the Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a Institute.
“Having a gymnasium at Gitwinksilhkw Elementary school will provide more room for indoor play and will allow our students to further develop physical literacy in a safe and accessible space,” said Jill Jensen, superintendent, School District 92 (Nisga'a). “We are grateful to the ministry for its financial support. The gym will be truly appreciated and well used by students, staff and community.”
Gitwinksihlkw Elementary is a small school serving mostly Indigenous students in the Nass Valley. The school is a part of the Nisga’a School District, which focuses on celebrating the Nisga’a language and culture. Students at Gitwinksihlkw take part in Nisga’a culture and language classes to learn about their heritage and keep the Nisga’a language alive.
When the school was built in 1995, it was constructed without a gymnasium. Students have shared the gym at Ts’oohl Ts’ap Memorial Centre, which was not fully accessible and sometimes caused scheduling conflicts.
The new gymnasium will be accessible and include mechanical and electrical systems to minimize greenhouse gas emissions throughout the building’s lifetime. Construction is expected to be finished in September 2023.
To continue improving schools for students, Budget 2022 includes $3.1 billion to be invested in school capital projects over the next three years, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and land purchases for future schools.
For more information about School District 92 (Nisga’a), visit: https://www.nisgaa.bc.ca/