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Saskatoon Nutana Rotary Club announces performing arts funding for new St. Frances Cree Bilingual School

June 25, 2021
Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana president Lorne Braithwaite and GSCS Board of Education Chair Diane Boyko sign an agreement to support performing arts at St Frances Cree Bilingual School

Reclamation of Indigenous language and revitalization of Cree culture for youth in Saskatoon is getting a boost thanks to an enhanced partnership between Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

At an event at St. Frances Cree Bilingual School on McPherson Avenue, members of Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana announced plans to support Indigenous performing arts education at the new St. Frances school that is expected to open in the fall of 2023, on the corner of 7th Street East and Grosvenor Avenue. Their commitment is for $100,000 over five years.

Elder Shirley Arcand began the event with a prayer in her native Cree language. Elmer Tootoosis, his wife Candace Merasty and their son Adam offered a song and dance to represent the performing arts that will have a more prominent place in the school thanks to today's announcement.

“St. Frances Cree Bilingual School is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action and aligns perfectly with Rotary’s belief in the value of friendship and mutual respect in building community,” said Lorne Braithewaite, Nutana Rotary president. “The Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana has addressed the Calls to Action in a number of ways over the past few years, and we know it will take several generations to arrive at a place of true reconciliation. This project gives us the opportunity to continue our work for the long term.”

“St. Frances has become an award winning, internationally recognized Indigenous language and cultural school,” said Diane Boyko, Board of Education chair for Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. “I really believe the new facility, and support of programming like we are announcing today, will give the students the support and inspiration they deserve. Music and the arts are tangible ways to both express and experience Indigenous culture. We’re very thankful to have partners like Nutana Rotary to walk with along this journey.”

After the agreement was signed, Delvin Kanewiyakiho, First Nations Cultural Leader at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, gave a star blanket to members of the Rotary Club. Kanewiyakiho explained the blanket symbolizes warmth and protection.

Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana invites everyone—rotarians and non-rotarians alike—to support the establishment of Indigenous performing arts education at St. Frances by volunteering, sharing news of the partnership, and through financial contributions.

Visit Rotary Club of Saskatoon Nutana's website.

Learn more about plans for the New St. Frances Cree Bilingual School.

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