WIIKWEMKOONG—On Tuesday, June 19 an official groundbreaking ceremony for the Wikwemikong High School Greenhouse, which will be built this summer through a co-op program, was held at the Wikwemikong High School. The summer co-op program will offer 12 students the opportunity to earn credits.

The ceremony began with a smudge and prayer, followed by an introduction and words of appreciation by one of the key organizers, Christianna Jones, who is the apprenticeship co-ordinator with the Wikwemikong Development Commission.

Ms. Jones recounted the events which led her and Jocelyn Bebamikawe, another key organizer, on their journey to making their vision of having a year-round, self-sustaining greenhouse in the community a reality. The first major step in this journey was their introduction to the Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth team who was instrumental in moving the project forward. Ms. Jones also expressed gratitude to the Aviva Community Fund and all the many sponsors who have come on board for the project.

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The slate of speakers who spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony included Ogimaa Duke Peltier, who reminded those present of our relationship to the land and how “the Creator gave us plants and seeds for our use—the greenhouse will provide our youth and community with the opportunity to strengthen that relationship.” Wikwemikong Board of Education Director Fay Zoccole spoke next and expressed her excitement for the students who will benefit tremendously from the expanded curriculum which the new greenhouse project has sparked. Wikwemikong Board of Education Board Member Tim Ominika spoke on behalf of the board of education; Wikwemikong Development Commission Board President Lyndsay Brisard, who was a student at Wasse Abin High School, spoke about how much the school had changed and grown since he was a student and how this partnership will further benefit the school’s growth; and lastly, Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth Chair and Founder, Evan Veryard, who was joined by the Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth team which will be in Wiikwemkoong for the duration of the co-op, took a few minutes to thank the community members and all the many sponsors and community organizations who assisted in bringing the greenhouse to this point, as well as those who will be involved in assisting with the build over the summer.

All of the speakers spoke highly of the opportunities that the greenhouse will bring to the community and, in particular, the learning opportunities it will bring to the High School and its students.

After the speeches, the guest speakers, and students who will be involved in the co-op, took to the designated greenhouse area, next to the high school, to break ground. The groundbreaking was followed with a feast in the high school cafeteria.

The greenhouse, which will “serve as an educational space for green industries studies, agriculture and nutritional education” clearly begins a new and exciting chapter in the high school’s history, creating an opportunity for expanded learning and skills development. All who are involved see the greenhouse as a catalyst for further change and growth in the high school’s mandate.

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