Yuki Ikari/Edge columnist
The Indian residential school system was created by the Canadian government to educate and convert Indigenous youth and to assimilate them into Canadian society. It was created in the mid-1880s and ran until 1996, only 25 years ago, where the last school was shut down.
Former residential school in northern BC that operated from 1951 to 1975 is to be teared down and rebuilt as a new community centre.
Premier of BC, John Horgan, says “he was moved to work with the federal government to replace the residential school building after local elders told him during a visit that some people feared of stepping inside the place where they suffered physical and sexual abuse”. He visited the building in 2019 and that visit motivated him to work with the federal government to replace the residential school building. He says “this is something that should have been done a long, long time ago.”
The school is located in Lower Post, on Highway 97, approximately 23 kilometres southeast of Watson Lake, Yukon.
Murray Rankin, BC’s minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation said the demolition of this residential school was an important step forward in reconciliation.
The federal government is investing $11.5 million and the BC government Is investing $1.5 million. Daylu Dena Council is partnering and contributing $538,960 as well. Daylu Dena Council Deputy Chief Harlan Schilling said, “The Lower Post Residential School building has been a dark cloud over our people for far too long and stood in the center of our community as a reminder of a painful past”.
The construction of the new community centre is expected to be completed by the end of next year.