A new Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Behchokǫ̀ is still several years away from construction, education minister RJ Simpson says.
Work on a new school can’t go ahead until federal funding has been secured, Simpson told Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
The earliest anticipated completion of the school is 2025.
Simpson said the project is more expensive as the community wants a completely new school and not a retrofit of the existing one.
According to Lafferty, the school was built about 50 years ago and hasn’t received much care since a retrofit in 1995.
Lafferty said it was “time we move the project forward” amid meetings between the territorial and Tłı̨chǫ governments, adding students and parents worry about the school’s condition.
“They do not want their school to be patched up yet again,” the MLA said. “They want a new school that their children need and deserve.”
The current school is located in Edzo. Lafferty says residents should have more of a say in the new school’s location – something Simpson says is a Tłı̨chǫ Government responsibility.
“We’re approaching this as a government-to-government project,” the minister said.
“Schools are very personal to communities so we always want the final product to reflect community desires, but that is not a decision we’re making.”
Simpson said conversations with the Tłı̨chǫ Government suggested Rae has been identified as the location for a new school.
The minister said progress toward federal funding was being made, but a shift in October – that saw the project fall under a new agreement between the GNWT and Tłı̨chǫ Government – caused delays.
“It’s not like we’re sitting idle, but we’re not in the position to do the full-on engagement,” Simpson said.