New high school for Tsuut’ina Nation will have strong focus on culture and curriculum

Construction is starting on a new high school for the Tsuut’ina Nation, west of Calgary, Alta.

The new 43,000-square-foot school is the latest in a string of big development pieces for the First Nation, including the Grey Eagle Casino and hotel, a new sportsplex and the new southwest ring road currently under construction.

A row of shiny new shovels hit the dirt on Wednesday as Nation officials broke ground on the $18-million, federally-funded project, following smudges, prayers, singing and drumming at the Bullhead Adult Learning Centre.

“This is a day where the future begins to unfold, unfold for our young men and women, the next generations that will take these leadership roles,” said Chief Lee Crowchild.

“This will give them the opportunity to get an education within the context of the Tsuut’ina.”

Chief Lee Crowchild said language will be a big focus at the new school. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Crowchild said one big focus of the much-needed school will be language, and keeping their’s alive.

“The Tsuut’ina language was almost lost and it’s had a real rejuvenation. It’s taught as full immersion at the K-4 level and there’s a big push to make sure it’s secure for the future,” said Crowchild.

The new state-of-the-art school will include a theatre for fine arts, a culinary space, learning commons and a full-size gym. 

“Education is only one part. The whole person and life-long learning is also a big part, we don’t stop learning until we draw our last breath,” said Crowchild.

The school is being built by developer Bird, who say they are working with the Nation collaboratively, involving them in the process as much as possible through construction.

A rendering of the new high school, which is set to open in 2020. (Supplied)

The developer is a national contractor with experience of working with First Nations across the country.

“This is not just a building,” said Valerie McDougall, Director of Tsuut’ina Education.

“This is who we are, our culture and our language. That’s one of the things we really focus on and we want to integrate it with the Alberta program of studies,” said McDougall.

“Also making our students more successful in terms of identity, who they are and that they’re able to go outside of our community and achieve the thing that they need need by knowing who they are as Tsuut’ina people,” she said.

McDougall says the Nation currently only has two schools as well as an adult learning centre and a new Tsuut’ina language immersion pilot project that started this year.

The new high school will be home to around 100 students.

It’s due to be completed and ready to open in 2020.

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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