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New library for Piikani elementary school

Saturday, 25 November 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

New library for Piikani elementary school
Piikani students and elders meet with representatives of Fui Hui Educational Foundation last week. From left are Alina Crow, Adrian Little Mustache, Judy San,  Piikani elder Bryan Yellow Horn, David Leung, Diana Leung, Cindel Little Plume and Theresa Choy.   Photo by Georgia Dale

New library for Piikani elementary school

By Georgia Dale

Elders, students and teachers gathered Nov. 15 to showcase their culture and give thanks to representatives of Fu Hui Educational Foundation. Together with the Martin Family Initiative, Fu Hui raised $300,000 to build six libraries for First Nations schools across Canada, including one for Napi’s Playground Elementary.

The charitable organization was founded in Toronto in 2004 to improve children’s access to education in remote regions of China. It began by creating scholarships and grants to assist university and high school students in Guangdon province.

As a non-political and non-religious organization, it partnered with communities and education stakeholders.

The foundation found its experience in China could be used to benefit education programs in Canadian indigenous communities.

Judy San, president of Fu Hui, said the foundation works closely with the Martin Family Initiative, “maintaining the principle of totally respecting the indigenous people’s culture, and trying to expand our educational assistance in Canada.”

MFI was founded by former prime minister Paul Martin to support the education, health and well-being of indigenous children.

According to MFI’s Carlana Lindemann, schools in Ontario that were selected to participate in a model school pilot project were able to improve literacy rates by 68 per cent over five years.

Principal Crystal Good Rider recognized the two organizations for helping her toward her dream of establishing a Piikani community library. She realized the need for the facility when she was tutoring mature students, finding that sometimes their literacy rates were worse than their children’s.

One of the elders, Eric Crowshoe, emphasized to the students that although it is important to acknowledge the oral history and culture of the Blackfoot people, “today we have to read — the more books you go read, the more you will learn and understand.”

After the speeches, and performances by the Napi’s Elementary School Dancers and Ron Yellow Horn, the visitors made their way to the library. There the librarian, Lydia Morning Bull, cut the ribbon — but not before Judy San of Fu Hui wished the students a lifetime of happy reading.


Sharing their culture through dance, from front to back, are Levi Four Horns, Liddel Bastien, Kalia McDougall, Miami Bastien and Savannah Bad Eagle.