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Attawapiskat announces name of new school: Kattawapsikak Elementary School

Wednesday September 3, 2014

After a community vote, Attawapiskat First Nation has selected a name of its new school: Kattawapiskak Elementary School.

The name was chosen on Aug. 28 after two days of voting. The first day of voting narrowed down the candidates from five potential names to two. The other finalist was Shannen Memorial School.

Kattawapiskak is the traditional name of the community. It translates to “the parting of the rocks,” referencing a landmark on the river flowing out to James Bay.

The Attawapiskat First Nation Education Authority acknowledged the legacy of Shannen Koostachin, a local youth who led a campaign to call on the federal government to build a new school not only in Attawapiskat, but in First Nations across the country.

“She will not be forgotten and all the youth who (are) still with us,” the education authority said in a press release. “And we honour the the name of J.R. Nakogee Elementary School as it was the stepping stone in achieving our dream of Kattawapiskak Elementary School.”

The new facility will finally answer the community’s calls for a school that have been ongoing since the J.R. Nakogee Elementary School was forced to close in 2000 due to diesel fuel contamination sustained from the 1970s. Since the old school closed, students have been learning in portables, prompting complaints from students and teachers that the portables are poorly constructed and not a practical learning environment.

Several AANDC ministers have promised a new school over the past 12 years, only to turn back on the promise.

Construction of the new school began in 2012.

The grand opening of the new school is scheduled for Sept. 19.

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