It was a joyous occasion filled with pride and optimism last Thursday, October 8 in Stand Off, when six shovels dug into the earth to officially commemorate the construction of a new Red Crow Community College campus.
Tribal members, Chief and Council including Leadership from the Alberta Government, met in the open field, west of the current location of Red Crow Community College, to celebrate the College’s Sod Turning event for their new campus.
“It will be a safe place where students can learn about themselves, their strengths and begin to realize their hopes and dreams,” says President of Red Crow Community College, Roy Weasel Fat, when referring to the opportunities the new campus will bring.
“Having a modern facility means students from Kainai Nation will have a chance to study towards a career close to home where they can connect with modern Blackfoot traditions past through generations,” adds Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations, Rick Wilson.
Playing a key role in helping Red Crow Community College acquire the $48 million funding needed to construct the new campus project was Blood Tribe Chief and Council.
“We were fortunate to acquire resources through the hard work of Council and we were able to set aside $20 million towards the new campus,” says Blood Tribe Chief, Roy Fox “Makiinima”.
“I think it encouraged others to also participate in the funding,” says Fox referring to the additional $20 million investment that came from the federal government through its Canada Infrastructure program.
Providing the remaining $8 million in funding was Red Crow Community College who used the insurance money they received from the old campus fire.
According to Alberta Minister of Infrastructure, Prasad Panda, several financial benefits will come from constructing a new campus that will help Tribal members and the Reserve, both in the short and long term.
“Investments into infrastructure projects, like Red Crow College, create immediate economic and employment benefits within the local communities. We expect the construction of your new College campus will create about 270 construction and construction-related jobs, right here in the community,” says Panda.
“In addition, infrastructure projects like the College create long-standing benefits by providing ongoing community-based jobs in programming, operations and maintenance, when construction is completed.”
Besides the employment and economic impact, the construction of the new building will provide, there will also be additional educational opportunities for Tribal members looking to get a post-secondary education.
“We will be able to offer additional academic and non-academic programs to support the needs of our community, including adult upgrading development programs,” says Weasel Fat. The College also plans to expand the academic degree programs they offer through its partnership with Campus Alberta.
Once the campus opens, some of the new programs the College plans to offer will be Nursing, Contractor Trades, Tourism and Recreation, Resource Development, including a Blackfoot Language Degree program.
According to the Board of Governors Chair for Red Crow Community College, Lionel Weasel Head, the new campus facility will create a place that fosters connections with leadership, youth, elders, and our broader community.
“The design of the facility has deliberately incorporated our Blackfoot language, our culture and our traditions,” says Weasel Head.
“When you walk into our new facility, you will know that you have arrived in Blackfoot territory. From our values, colour fleet showed throughout the Atrium, the ceremonial round room, which is the shape of our straight-up headdress and our language prominently displayed throughout the facility.”
Overall, the most significant impact the new College will provide, according to Roy Weasel Fat, is how Tribal members will now have more opportunities to create a better future.
“Tribal Colleges are agents of change, this building will contribute to that change,” says Weasel Fat.
“The facility will provide a lot of chances for community members to advance themselves towards self-sufficiency, so they can take better care of their families and be role models for higher education to our youth.”
The new Red Crow Community College campus is planned to be built before September 2022.