Cat Lake New School, Cat Lake First Nation, Ontario
The Lawrence Wesley Education Centre was designed for Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 students from the Ojibway community of Cat Lake First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. The school has capacity for over 150 students, and was built west of the developed portion of the community, on undeveloped land.
"This new school will improve the educational outcomes of our community’s students and represents hope for our young people, who will one day be our leaders."
The school design was inspired by the pristine spruce and poplar boreal forest that characterizes Cat Lake First Nation. The entrance provides a broad sweeping view of the undisturbed forest, and the colours of the boreal forest throughout the seasons are used in a playful and cheerful manner inside, while the blue colours used on the exterior of the building reflect the sky and traditional school colours.
The school promotes the culture, language and values of the community. Therefore, promoting a sense of community was a particularly important consideration for the design team. Classrooms are clustered around a high level clerestory window providing natural light, a focus and a sense of community for students. The gymnasium and media centre, incorporating the library and computer room, are located separate from classrooms to allow for after-hours access and promote greater use of the facility.