According to StatsCan, only 47% of the Niisaachewan community havea high school diploma, compared to 91% of the national populationaged 24-64.This inequality is rooted in the Indian Act, the residentialschool system and the lack of funding for on-reserve schooling. Niisaachewan families were sent to residential schools in Kenora, many to Cecilia Jeffery Indian Residential school, the notorious institution from which Chanie Wenjack ran from and lost his life in 1966.
Councillor Bernice Major of Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation and Councillor Terri Meekis of Wabauskang First Nation at Niisaachewan’s new library.
SchoolBOX brought our mission ‘home’ after learning that Indigenous Youth Empowering Students (IYES) volunteers were helping to build libraries and schools for kids in Nicaragua and yet had neither books nor schools in their home community of Wabauskang First Nation in Northern Ontario. Terri Meekis, IYES alumnus and now Wabauskang Councillor, helped SchoolBOX translate their model and create the newest First Nations Library in Ontario in her home community! In her desire to champion kids, Terri continued to volunteer to help us implement SchoolBOX’s next learning center project in Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation.
The project transformed an unused bay of the community fire hall into a beautiful learning center for all kids K-12; creating the only educational facility on the reserve. The space serves children and families, elders and youth, with an area to come together to learn, teach and share. The garage door was replaced with an open picture window to allow for natural light, and a children and family library collection was installed downstairs along with a youth library upstairs. Kids can receive support in completing their high school in an effort to break the cycle of poverty left by residential schools. Only 1 in 4 kids on-reserve finish their high school in 4 years according to a 2018 Auditor General report. Together, we are investing in amazing local leaders to overcome these barriers and ‘make education possible’ for all kids!
Niisaachewan’s Agindaasoowigamig (library) is now open. Located at the Seven Generations Classroom at the Fire Hall Building.
Hours of operation are Tuesday 10am – 6pm, Wednesday 10am – 3pm, and Thursday 10am – 3pm.