Six Nations of the Grand River is calling for more federal funding to help expedite the construction of an unfinished school that teaches Cayuga and Mohawk languages to all ages. On Friday, students, staff, and officials gathered in Oshweken at the site where the new $27 million building is slated to be built.
Gaweni:yo Private School Principal Louise Hill said, “It’s a heavy job keeping our culture and our languages going.” CHCH News spoke with school board member Elva Jamieson and she said many elders have passed away, “and the language was going with them.”
Brantford-Brant MP Larry Brock was there and he is calling on the federal government to provide the funding needed to sustain Canada’s only school where the Cayuga and Mohawk languages are taught from kindergarten through grade 12.
“The money is there. It’s the priority. Preservation of this particular language is not a priority, or hasn’t been the priority for this government and that has to change,” Brock said.
The 125 students who attend the immersion school currently have classes at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena nearby but the facility lacks amenities, infrastructure, and space for children to thrive.
School officials say site work has already been completed here this past year, and underground infrastructure and utilities are in place which has already cost them $5 million.
Six Nations Band Chief, Mark Hill, says he’s had conversations with cabinet in Ottawa.
“Priority-wise, we’re not within that priority at this time. That I think is very unfortunate, especially when we have to do things like filing motions in the court for day-school extensions, talking about residential schools.”
Officials add Gaweni:yo Private School is currently on a waitlist for repair and new construction money from Indigenous Services Canada. CHCH News reached out to Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller for an update and has yet to hear back.