Client

Indigenous Services Canada/ Bunibonibee Cree Nation

Location

Oxford House, Manitoba

Project Scale

$13.3 Million

Honouring the Past

The Bunibonibee Cree Nation is located along the shoreline of Oxford House, Manitoba, approximately 950 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The remote settlement is a signatory to the 1909 Treaty 5 Adhesion and is only accessible by plane or winter road.

Prior to 1972, the education system in Oxford House only supported students from pre-kindergarten through grade eight – a common situation for remote, northern schools. For the Bunibonibee Cree Nation, as well as many other Indigenous communities, this meant that children had to leave their families to attend high school across the Interlake Region of Manitoba. However, when tragedy struck the community in 1972, the Nation petitioned the federal government to extend on-reserve education to grade 10 for the following school year, and later, through to grade 12.

With a majority of the community’s youth attending high school in the community, the Bunibonibee Cree Nation felt it was time to update its existing facilities to give students a modern, inclusive and welcoming space that was reflective of local culture and the growing student population.

The Nation partnered with what was then Indigenous & Northern Affairs Canada (now Indigenous Services Canada) under the Manitoba Schools Initiative, a program of work to build a series of new schools for four of the province’s Indigenous communities. The Bunibonibee Cree Nation’s 1972 Memorial High School accommodates up to 300 students and includes a large gym, an industrial arts room, mechanics room, computer labs fully outfitted with new equipment and an outdoor skating rink. The Nation is also repurposing the former high school building as an elementary school, to offer younger students a refreshing new learning space.

Ensuring All Voices are Heard

The federal government and Bunibonibee Cree Nation retained Colliers Project Leaders as the project coordinator on the Manitoba Schools Initiative.

In this role, our team worked closely with the project owners and multiple design, construction and delivery partners to ensure they received regular project updates, understood all technical issues, and made timely decisions to inform change orders and general project approvals. We also shared project communications with the Bunibonibee community and managed their feedback within the project team to ensure the First Nation’s voice, vision and expectations were heard and integrated into the project.

Welcoming Students in 2021

Construction was complete in August 2021, and the community celebrated the official grand opening of the 1972 Memorial High School on September 23. The heart of the community and memory of those lost will live on through the integral changes made to remote education and infrastructure. Our team was proud to work alongside Bunibonibee Cree Nation, project stakeholders and extended project team to see this important memorial officially open to the next generation of students.

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