Last weekend, the halls of the new Outma Squil’xw Cultural School at the Penticton Indian Band were filled, not just with the sounds of children, but the pounding of drums and dancing.
Students have actually been in the school since early April and though the official grand opening of the building is scheduled for June, the band decided it was time to hold a powwow, celebrating their culture and the achievement of creating a new school where that culture can be passed to succeeding generations.
“It’s a vision that we have had for a long time, to have our own school, on reserve, so that kids can come down learn the culture and the language,” said PIB Coun. Joseph Pierre, whose responsibilities include the education portfolio. “It’s taken us over 20 years to get here and now that it is here, we can just continue that momentum.”
Pierre’s grandfather, also Joseph, said it was an event he though he would never see in his lifetime. In that time, he said, his children have grown and have their own children.
“One day he will have kids that come here,” said the elder Pierre, indicating Coun. Pierre. “And the rest of the people, the community, they will enjoy this for a long time.”
Chief Jonathan Kruger explained that in addition to ensuring a cultural legacy for the community’s children, the new school will also serve as a community venue for more events like Saturday’s powwow.
“A celebration like this has been coming for a long time and I am just honoured to be here, with everyone, enjoying this beautiful building,” said Kruger. “Get out there and dance and have a good time.”