Immersion school starts massive fundraiser

OHSWEKEN – Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo, the private Cayuga and Mohawk Language Immersion School at Six Nations, has commenced a massive fundraising initiative in an effort to raise $13 million to build a new school.

The school is to be built on land donated by Six Nations Elected Council behind Six Nations Polytechnic on Fourth Line Road. Gaweni:yo Principal, Ms. Linda Staats, expressed sincere gratitude to the Styres family for their generous contributions over the years in providing Gaweni:yo with temporary accommodations on the second floor of the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.

Meeting a mandate of providing culturally appropriate, culturally relevant language education has its challenges. To support the learning of the language, Gaweni:yo regularly brings fluent speakers, who tend to be elderly, into the school to interact with the young students.

The elderly are also required for development of educational resources. Both are an essential component in the children’s learning, as resources are extremely limited and have required Gaweni:yo to develop these learning tools in-house over the years. The elders often face mobility issues. A handicap accessible building is required to accommodate their needs.

The Gaweni:yo students now have a playground, which sits at the edge of the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena parking lot. Ms. Staats identified that normal play on a completely cemented play area results in higher incidences of bruises and abrasions. On Gaweni:yo’s wish list are larger classrooms, science laboratories, a full service cafeteria, fully-equipped gymnasiums suitable for all grades, playground space, Language Nest classes and access to woods and streams for Environmental Studies and Medicine Walks.

Ms. Staats chuckled at how ambitious the goal of $13 million in 2 years may seem, but she knows the importance of language restoration to our cultural survival. She explained that this important goal requires creating an environment that is conducive to learning culture and language.

The Gaweni:yo Board has renewed their Building Committee, which will guide and monitor the project from the strategic planning phase to the building of the new school. Ms. Staats pointed out the costs are exorbitant even in the planning stage. Structural and mechanical designs alone will cost $1.5 million.

The Gaweni:yo Board has put their faith in Ms. Staats to provide educational leadership and to work strategically towards their goal of building the new school. Linda Staats served as CEO at Six Nations Polytechnic from their humble beginnings in portables at old SS#5 school, and led the building initiative that created Polytech’s current home, a beautiful structure on Fourth Line Road.

Gaweni:yo Board, staff and students put a call out to this community to please actively participate in making this lofty goal of $13 million in 2 years a reality. Tickets are being sold and drawn daily on a number of amazing donated prizes. Tickets can be purchased from staff and students at Gaweni:yo. More fundraising efforts are planned within the community and through mainstream funders.

To donate or to inquire about how you can help, please contact Ms. Linda Staats at Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo (905)768-7203.

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