A former residential school building in Lower Post, B.C. will be demolished and replaced with a cultural centre.
The rural community near the Yukon border has been lobbying for decades to demolish the building.
Construction on a new multi-purpose community building in the Kaska Dena community will start in June. The new building will include recreational, educational, and cultural spaces in the community and will accommodate administrative offices for Daylu Dena Council.
The federal government is investing $11.5 million to build the new facility. The B.C. government is investing $1.5 million, and Daylu Dena Council is contributing $538,960.
“The Lower Post Residential School building has been a dark cloud over our people for far too long and stood in the center of our community as a reminder of a painful past,” Daylu Dena Council Deputy Chief Harlan Schilling said.
“It was the only building in our community that we could use for our government. It held our offices, our post office and it was a place that people would have to enter every day. Many could not enter it because of painful memories. The one torch that has been passed on from Leader to Leader was to get rid of that building and get our people a new one. We are extremely proud of the work that we have done with the federal and provincial governments to demolish the residential school and to have a new building for our community.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan visited the residential school building in 2019. Horgan says his visit motivated him to work with the federal government to find support to replace the residential school building.
The B.C. premier says this “is something that should have been done a long, long time ago.”
Construction of the new community area is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
“The former residential school building in Lower Post has been an unwelcome reminder of a painful past for the community for far too long,” Horgan said.
“Demolishing it and replacing it with a welcoming place for community members to gather together will be an important step forward for reconciliation with the Kaska people and Indigenous peoples throughout the north, one that supports healing and the health and well-being of residential school survivors and their families in the region, and everyone who lives in Lower Post.”