The City of Fredericton has voted to allow Killarney Lake Lodge to host the Wolastoqey Language Immersion School, known as the Kehkimin School.
This is a unanimous vote of the council at its regular meeting on May 24.
The school will teach the Wolastoqey language to people with the aim of preserving it for future generations. According to the Wolastoqey grandmothers, there are only about 100 fluent speakers left, many of whom are elderly.
Calvin Thompson, the First Nations relations manager with the city, said it was the first school of its kind in New Brunswick.
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“We have been working with the Wolastoqey Nations and the Grand Council for about eight months,” he said. “We must act now.”
Thompson said this is an essential part of the path to reconciliation with First Nations communities.
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“It’s extremely critical,” he said.
The school will be on the ground floor of the pavilion for the first year of operation, until June 2023. It will then move to a city-owned house on the adjacent property for the remaining four years of the agreement. The rent for the duration of the agreement is $1, depending on the city.
The city also marked the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation although the province does not and flies the Wolastoqey flag at City Hall. He makes a land survey at the beginning of each council meeting.
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Fredericton Mayor Kate Roger was very excited when the location for the school was agreed upon.
“A sense of accomplishment,” Rogers said in an interview Wednesday. “A lot of it comes from this idea that we say we’re committed to truth and reconciliation, and we say we’re a treaty people and we say we’re allies, but without actions to back that up, it doesn’t make much sense.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 14(i) states that “Indigenous languages are a fundamental and treasured part of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgent need to preserve them.”
“We are committed to this process,” Rogers said. “It’s the native language of this territory and Fredericton is on Wolastoqey territory.
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