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School board seeks zoning change for residency project

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

Former Pinewood School could host students from remote First Nations

By Chris Marchand

Dryden city councillors got an early glimpse of Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) plan to convert Pinewood School into a residence and educational facility for up to 72 aboriginal students and four supervisory staff.

The plan came before council, Monday night, in the form of a bylaw zoning application from the KPDSB attached to a request to schedule a public meeting to present the zoning bylaw amendment information and allow the public to make presentations in respect to the proposed bylaw.

That public meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m. May 15 in council chambers.

KPDSB director of Education Jack McMaster says the plan is in a preliminary conceptual phase and is being developed with partner Keewaytinook Okimakanak. It has yet to come before board trustees for approval. The concept would mirror Ear Falls’ Northern Eagle School, which helps First Nations students from remote communities make the often difficult transition to high school in the urban setting.

“When First Nations kids from the north come to high schools in the region, on average they are a couple years behind academically,” said KPDSB Director of Education Jack McMaster. “The idea is to bring their academic experience up and then transition them to high schools in the region.”

McMaster says that families in remote northern communities are increasingly looking for educational opportunities outside of remote First Nations away from social problems that pose significant challenges to youth.

“We’re seeing more and more families leaving the northern communities,” said McMaster. “I think it’s an opportunity for us to help close that gap, but also have the families view our communities as educational opportunities for their kids.”

2 thoughts on “School board seeks zoning change for residency project

  1. Wow! This proposal boggles my mind! 4 supervisors for 72 youngsters? Good luck! I understand that boarding homes are difficult to find for youngsters coming into the community from up north, however I’m not convinced that segregating 72 youngsters into a communal residence is going to benefit the children. I see that the intention is to provide them with academic assistance as well as socialization assistance. That is commendable but I don’t know that putting 72 kids together in one place is the way to do it. Just my opinion.

    1. I love this faux “think of the children” angle that keeps coming up.

      I wish more people had the guts to come out and tell us what they were really thinking.

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