Skip to main content

North Caribou Lake First Nation School: Connecting Students with Nature and Heritage

North Caribou School Exterior Aerial View

North Caribou Lake First Nation, located 320 kilometers north of Sioux Lookout, is known for its picturesque landscapes and natural beauty. As part of the community's commitment to education and the well-being of its students, a new Kindergarten to Grade 12 school opened earlier this month. Spanning 4,830 square meters, the school is designed to accommodate up to 500 students. Its central location near the arena, and nursing station and is a vital part of the community hub including shared use of baseball fields.

The design philosophy of the school aims to foster a positive self-identity among students and staff by establishing a strong connection with culture or place. In this building, the association is formed by evoking the serene ambiance of walking through a forest with the interplay of tree shadows and gentle sunlight filtering through the branches. Strategic placement of high-level clerestory windows in the main entrances, cafeteria, and gymnasium provide natural sunlight from above, like the outdoors, creating an inspiring environment. Windows in all classrooms, special education areas, and administration spaces allow students and staff to connect with nature throughout the day and embrace the changing seasons. This holistic design approach aims to immerse students and staff in a space that not only mirrors the beauty of the surrounding natural world but also fosters well-being and motivation.

North Caribou School, Classrooms

In recognition of the community's cultural heritage, the new school will feature an artwork and mural program, as well as a commemorative photography exhibit. These elements showcase the North Caribou Lake First Nation culture and community values, along with inter-generational learning. Dedicated spaces inside and outside the school will serve as platforms for artistic expression, with student artwork integrated into the program.

The curriculum at the new school aims to unite students of all grades, fostering unity and collaboration. The school will develop an immersive Oji-Cree language program for younger students to preserve and promote the native language. Land-based and cultural programs will also continue to be a core focus, with plans for enhancements and expansions. Technology education, including industrial arts, nutrition and fashion, and computer education, will be offered to promote technological literacy. Additionally, a wide array of high school programs in sciences, mathematics, communications, and other subjects will be available, delivered by a combination of local teachers and innovative internet or distance education programs.

Zoning of students by grade was important and accomplished by providing two separate entrances. This deliberate decision ensures that the younger grades are physically separated from the high school classes, allowing them to develop a strong sense of belonging within their own school environment. Moreover, the provision of two entrances serves to prioritize the safety and security of all students by enabling effective cross supervision between the entrances.

North Caribou School Exterior Play Spaces

The primary focus of the exterior design was to foster a vibrant sense of community and provide spaces for recreation and education. The exterior features are thoughtfully designed to promote activity, facilitate community engagement, and enhance outdoor learning experiences. Notably, a spacious courtyard, easily visible from the school's cafeteria, serves as a dynamic gathering space for students and community members alike. Adjacent to this courtyard are baseball fields, integral to various community events, ensuring that the school remains a vital part of local activities. Furthermore, the courtyard is located near raised garden beds, offering educational opportunities that connect students with horticulture and the environment.

With its expansive facilities, inclusive programs, and commitment to cultural preservation, the new school in North Caribou Lake First Nation will be a beacon of learning and community engagement. It will provide a nurturing and inspiring environment for students of all ages, fostering their educational growth and deepening their connection to their cultural roots.

North Caribou School Cafeteria

Return to Blog