Nisga’a students will benefit from a new gymnasium

Students at Gitwinksihlkw Elementary School are about to have their own gymnasium.

Construction is underway, funded by a $6.3 million investment from the province.

“We know that play and physical education are essential for student learning and development, including improving cooperation and leadership skills,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and of Child Care. “We are thrilled to work in partnership with the Nisga’a Board of Education to build a gymnasium that not only meets the needs of the students, but also the community at large. This project also contributes to efforts to bring truth, equity and reconciliation to education across the province.

Whiteside visited Gitwinksihlkw Elementary School as part of his tour of the area to meet with Nisga’a Lisims government and talk about education for Nass Valley students. The new gymnasium is designed to improve school services and provide event space for the wider community.

Sports teams, dance groups, educational conferences, the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority and other local groups will use the space. Community celebrations, such as the Nisga’a New Year, Hoobiyee, will also take place in the gymnasium, in addition to post-secondary training provided by the Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a Institute.

“Having a gymnasium at Gitwinksilhkw Elementary School will provide more space to play indoors and allow our students to further develop their 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 gymnasium will be truly appreciated and well used by students, staff and the community.

Gitwinksihlkw Elementary is a small school serving primarily Indigenous students from the Nass Valley. The school is part of the Nisga’a School District, which focuses on celebrating the Nisga’a language and culture. Gitwinksihlkw students participate 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 built without a gymnasium. Students shared the Ts’oohl Ts’ap Memorial Center gymnasium, which was not fully accessible and sometimes caused scheduling conflicts.

The new gymnasium will be accessible and will include mechanical and electrical systems to minimize greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life of the building. Construction is expected to be completed in September 2023.

To continue to improve schools for students, Budget 2022 invests $3.1 billion in school capital projects over the next three years, including new and expanded schools, school upgrades and seismic replacements and land purchases for future schools.

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