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Miawpukek First Nation School Opens its Doors

This past September approximately 180 students walked through the doors of The Miawpukek First Nation K-12 grade school for the very first time. 

Located in Conne River, Bay D’Espoir, Newfoundland, directly adjacent to the community's Powwow grounds, the design build project for Se't A'newey Kina'matino'kuom (St. Anne's School) was led by Bird Construction, with FBM Architects + Interior Design and Gibbons and Snow serving as the co-architect consultants.

The school’s predecessor needed to be replaced due to issues with the aging structure; and the community saw this as an opportunity to not only replace the school, but to have the building incorporate other services that were lacking in the area.

“This school perfectly reflects our commitment to have any project we work on be driven by the people for whom it will serve,” said George Cotaras, President of FBM. “Education goes beyond academics – this facility is proof of that, where health care and social supports are integrated into the learning environment.”

In addition to 15 classrooms, Miawpukek First Nation K-12 is also home to a daycare, library/community resource centre, gymnasium, music room, art room, fitness centre and a dental clinic.

The building form takes cues from the directional pattern of its remote site—the linear classroom wings echo the ‘fingerprint’ left on the land by the glaciers. The primary axis of the building is oriented North/ South, allowing the main entrance to greet the southern sun. At the center of the school, a meeting place emerges as a circular room topped by a woven light drum and anchored by an eight-point star articulated in the floor tile. At night the building center, lit from within, glows as a lantern above the roofline, inviting the community to gather, teach and learn.

Dwayne Flynn, FBM’s senior architect serving the project, was able to attend the opening event on September 20, a moment that not only provided for an opportunity to celebrate the completion of the project, but also to reflect on a personal connection with the location.

“My mother is from Bay d'Espoir, so this area holds a lot of very special memories for me,” said Dwayne. “In fact, the school sits on the grounds where I used to play softball during summer vacations. If I recall correctly, I lost a lot of games on those grounds.”

More on the opening ceremonies for the school can be found through recent coverage from CBC Newfoundland.