Whitehorse Daily Star

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Yukon MP Brendan Hanley and Education Minister Jeanie McLean

Plans move ahead for Burwash Landing school

Preliminary joint funding of $22.5 million for the construction of a new school in Burwash Landing was announced Monday.

By Whitehorse Star on September 27, 2022

Preliminary joint funding of $22.5 million for the construction of a new school in Burwash Landing was announced Monday.

The final cost of building the school in the North Alaska Highway community will not be determined until the procurement phase concludes.

The Kluane First Nation has advocated for a school for decades.

Students are currently driven or bused 16 kilometres to the aging Kluane Lake School in Destruction Bay.

Monday’s announcement was made by Yukon MP Brendan Hanley. He spoke on behalf of Dominic LeBlanc, the federal minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities.

Also involved were territorial Education Minister Jeanie McLean and Highways and Public Works Minister Nils Clarke.

The new public school, or Kêts’ádań Kų̀, which means “house of learning” in the Southern Tutchone language of Kluane First Nation, will replace Kluane Lake School.

For more than 60 years, the existing school has been populated primarily by students residing in or near Burwash.

“The construction of this new Kêts’ádań Kù in Burwash Landing will better serve children and families in the community for years to come,” the two governments said in a statement.

“By investing in rural, remote and northern infrastructure, the Government of Canada is growing our country’s economy, increasing the resiliency of our communities, and improving the lives of Canadians.”

Ottawa is contributing up to $10,875,000, while the Yukon government will chip in at least $11.7 million.

“We are proud to partner with Kluane First Nation and the Government of Yukon on this important project,” said Hanley.

“This new school or Kêts’ádań Kų̀ (learning house) will provide students and educators in Burwash Landing with a local facility to learn and access valuable educational opportunities right in their community.

“The Government of Canada will continue to work collaboratively with different levels of government and First Nations partners to make meaningful infrastructure investments in our territory and across the country.”

In June 2020, after many years of discussions, Kluane First Nation and the Yukon government signed a memorandum of understanding outlining a commitment to plan and construct the school.

In the territory’s 2022-23 Five-year Capital Plan, an estimated budget of $20 million to $28 million was included for a new school in Burwash.

“Through this project, we are honouring the longstanding request of Kluane First Nation and the school community to move the new Kêts’ádań Kù, a learning house, to Burwash Landing,” said McLean.

“This major milestone demonstrates our government’s commitment to building this new school. I look forward to continuing to work with Kluane First Nation as we move closer to breaking ground on the Kêts’ádań Kù.”

Clarke called the plans “another positive step towards reconciliation and working together with Yukon First Nations.

“This is an excellent opportunity to advance a major project that will benefit the students and families of Burwash Landing for generations to come,” Clarke added.

“It will also provide new economic opportunities for people living in Burwash and serve the community’s needs now and into the future.”

Chief Bob Dickson said his First Nation is “pleased to be working in partnership with the Government of Canada and Government of Yukon to build a school in Burwash Landing.

“The recent collaboration between our governments is an example of reconciliation in action.

“Education has been a priority for Kluane First Nation for generations, and a new school in Burwash Landing is the culmination of decades of tireless effort by many Kluane First Nation citizens,” Dickson added.

“The Kêts’ádań Kų̀ will be infused with KFN language, tradition and culture, and will serve the broader community as a whole for years to come.”

The longstanding absence of a school in the community once cost a Yukon Party government its Education and Justice minister.

The late John Edzerza made a high-profile resignation from those major portfolios in August 2006.

As he described it at the time, one of the dominant reasons was the decision by Dennis Fentie, the late premier, to cancel the initial planned budgetary allotment for a new school. Edzerza said the reversal in course was a personal and professional embarassment to him.

The federal government investment comes from the Rural and Northern Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

Federal funding is conditional on fulfilling all requirements related to consultation with Indigenous groups.

Under the Investing in Canada Plan, the federal government is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.

Over the past six years, Ottawa has invested more than $306 million in 60-plus infrastructure projects across the Yukon under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

During that period, more than $47.4 billion has been invested in communities by Infrastructure Canada across the country for infrastructure projects.

Comments (10)

Up 15 Down 2

Ibex Gal on Sep 30, 2022 at 3:15 pm

Whatever happened to the thought of using prefab units instead of this monstrosity for only a few kids. Ridiculous in my opinion. And while we're on the topic, if 50+ yr old "temporary quarters" for Grey Mountain School in Riverdale is good enough for our kids then prefabs should be good enough for the communities as well.

Up 4 Down 18

Observer on Sep 29, 2022 at 10:04 pm

Good for Burwash Landing, good for KFN, the community that was there before DB. If that school was going up in DB with the same number of kids, there would not be a peep from the usual redneck .5%.

Up 21 Down 8

Dallas on Sep 28, 2022 at 3:32 pm

Less than a dozen kids…….unfriggin real!

Up 31 Down 9

rod on Sep 28, 2022 at 8:47 am

The 11 kids are going to love their 22.5 millon dollar school! insane.

Up 11 Down 12

Holy Hypocrites Holly… on Sep 28, 2022 at 7:43 am

From CBC North - March 28, 2006:

Education minister stands by school comments -

“Yukon's education minister says he recognizes the premier's authority to make spending decisions, but he still stands by his statements supporting a new school for the community of Burwash Landing.”

“John Edzerza told CBC Tuesday that he "made no apologies" for telling residents of Burwash that the territory would build a new school for them, even though cabinet had dropped the project from this year's budget.”

“Edzerza says he was under the impression the $200,000 for a school had been set in the budget, and he didn't make the announcement "in isolation". He wouldn't say who in government had also agreed on the spending plan.”

“But, he says "the premier does have the authority to redirect funds, and I do respect that."

“Edzerza says he believes the premier and chief of the Kluane First Nation in Burwash agreed the money would be better spent on a cultural centre, rather than a portable school.”

“Students in Burwash are now bused 15 kilometres to school in Destruction Bay.”

The current price tag is:

“Yukon's Minister of Highways and Public Works, announced preliminary joint funding of $22.5 million for the construction of a new school in Burwash Landing. The final value of the contract to build the school will not be determined until the procurement phase of the project concludes.”

Under the Liberals the cost of the school
in Burwash/D-bay has increased by 112.5 times the original estimate… And in the end Canada was bankrupted into oblivion to become the post-Nation state that Trudeau had always hoped for…

In the time of this alleged climate change emergency, of the hypocrisy, the Liberals are committing to exponential
increases in our Carbon Footprint through large commercial endeavours, and mass immigration far outstripping any ability to reduce our footprint - This absolutely, breathtakingly hypocritical - Quick, Trudeau and Freeland - To the random tax generator machine…

Have we not been on the brink of a cataclysmic death in 12 years for the last 60 years or so?
Why build anything… Too hasten our un-existence?

Up 13 Down 29

Robert van Lieshout on Sep 27, 2022 at 9:53 pm

Those who leave negative comments regarding this project need to stop and look a the need of the community. This project has been in the works for over a 100 years with full support of the people in Kluane. This has nothing to do with Gov. trying to gain votes.

Up 15 Down 5

Jim on Sep 27, 2022 at 8:57 pm

So the government budget gurus are assuming $20 to $28 million for this school. So when it comes in at 50+ million similar to the Whitslebend elementary school I guess they will just shrug their shoulders and write the cheque. Similar to the Teslin Bridge that went from a $28 million dollar budget to a $80+ million dollar budget to an award of $160 million. So now the kids in D-bay will get to travel to Burwash Landing?

Up 14 Down 4

Didn't have to take my socks off on Sep 27, 2022 at 4:31 pm

@Groucho - Nine (9). There are currently nine students enrolled at Kluane Lake School.

Up 48 Down 12

Groucho d'North on Sep 27, 2022 at 2:22 pm

I seem to recall years ago when this project was being debated that it was only ten students in Burwash who did not like going to the school in Dbay.
Ten students. How many are there now?

Up 47 Down 18

My Opinion on Sep 27, 2022 at 2:10 pm

Perfect! All this Liberal Government knows how to do is spend money and try to buy votes. Right now it is impossible to hire a contractor. It is also impossible for contractors to hire trades people.

So do you as a voter see housing availability and affordability as a priority or do you see buying votes in a small community as a priority? You can’t have both. There are only so many Contractors and Trades People. You get one or the other.

Stop Trudeau and Silver from spending your tax dollars on buying votes. That is all this is.

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