The OKIB Cultural Immersion School project has advanced to the Design Phase. Please bookmark page and check back often for updates.

Read our brochure about the planned school

Download the brochure here.

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School Design & Construction Update to Community

Here's a Summary on what was discussed at the latest School Design & Construction Information sharing meeting on May 11th, 2022.

GO FUND the new school

By Sandie Derrickson
School Design Coordinator
[email protected]

To-begin I would like personally express my heartfelt sympathies to all of those impacted by the tragic discovery at the Kamloops Residential School. This is a time to grieve and support one another through this tragedy, yet it demonstrates how important it is to have our own Band operated school that supports learning of the nsyilxcen language and the sqilxw culture.

As mentioned in earlier issues of Senk’lip News, nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓áyaʔtn iʔ k̓l currently operates out of the old (1956) Indian Day School building which is now well past its prime. Therefore, the planning and design of the new nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓áyaʔtn iʔ k̓l elementary school at Komasket Park continues.

Community consultation, including discussions with the children and teachers have been most informative in providing Iredale Architecture Ltd. with what the community would like to have in a new school. The challenge is that Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) will only fund, approximately $15 million, of the construction of the new school based-upon the school’s current enrollment. However, OKIB anticipates that enrollment will be much higher when the school opens. Therefore, additional funding is being sought to increase the capacity and improve the size and quality of the amenities within the school. For example, the architectural drawing provides options for additional classrooms to the North end of the building, a full-size gymnasium with balcony bleachers, and a full commercial kitchen that can be used to render and prepare traditional game and foods. The kitchen will also be able to support community events.

However, these extras, although necessities, will require significant fund-raising and grant support to achieve the version of the school that community has envisioned. OKIB members and non-members are all encouraged to consider making a donation to the new school fund. Donations can be made by e-transfer to [email protected], or paid by cheque, interac/credit card at the Band Office. The OKIB Finance department is working towards OKIB receiving a charitable status declaration which will allow larger organizations to also contribute resources and receive a tax receipt for their contributions.

Lim’lɘmt to Tanya Saddleman Joe and her staff for the very informative ideas they provided during a recent professional development day. It is imperative that the new school not only functions for the children but also for the staff. All of comments and concerns were heard and included or removed from the new schematic Version 2.0 design.

It has come to my attention that community members are enquiring about the dugout canoe at Komasket Park. The canoe is the handy work of Frank Marchand. The canoe will eventually become a ceremonial fixture within the school and be used on the water during special cultural occasions. You can see where the canoe will be eventually hung within the school lobby (see Panel C within School Design Version 2.0). The Canoe will be moved this summer and stored appropriately.

Go FUND the new School

Donations are currently being accepted. E-transfer to [email protected] cheque, Interact and/or credit cards are accepted at the OKIB Band Office.

School Design Community Meeting #1 summary

On Thursday, April 22, 2021 we had our first of many community meetings related to the design of the New Cultural Immersion School. We had a tremendous turn out of 48 people in attendance at the Zoom meeting. Thank you to each and every one of you for your input on the project. Your comments and valuable wisdom sets a tone for the Architect to design a school that truly reflects who are as Syilx people. A very special thank you goes out to Victor Antoine for opening our meeting with a prayer and instilling in us the value of our children.

The meeting included:

  • History of the New Cultural Immersion School Project- Gareth Jones Education Director
  • Input from Community - Sandie Derrickson School Design Coordinator
  • ISC Financial Review- Michael Hobson and Cherri Laface CML Project Management
  • Preliminary Schematic Drawing of nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət Cultural Immersion School-Peter Hildebrand of Iredale Architects

Summary of discussions:

We opened the evening with an opening prayer by Victor Antoine.

Gareth Jones OKIB Education Director gave us an over view of the History of the New nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət School Project. Gareth has been involved over the last three years. In that time OKIB has gone through the feasibility study in which Kali Van Stone did an amazing job collecting valuable information in the first phase of the project. We are now in the School Design phase. In which we are again collecting information from the community in regards to the design of the school.

Sandie Derrickson OKIB School Design Coordinator has collected information from other First Nations Schools as to what works and does not work in their schools in regards to functionality. Their feedback is imperative to our project. This is a one in a lifetime opportunity in ensuring we meet all the needs of the students, staff and community.

Michael Hobson and Cherri Laface From CML Project Management discussed the phases ISC (Indigenous Services Canada) requires from OKIB to complete this project. As previously mentioned we are in the School Design Phase. Michael and Cherri have done a tremendous job in keeping the project on budget and ensuring OKIB is meeting all requirements from ISC.

Peter Iredale from Iredale Architecture presented a Preliminary Schematic Design of the new nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət Cultural Immersion School. Keeping in mind his design is preliminary it was an opportunity for the community to share their input. Follow the link below to view the full presentation.

Design Concepts

Images 1 and 2 below are Peter Hildebrand’s Iredale Architects preliminary schematic drawings. These are ONLY preliminary drawings and we still have a long way to go to finalize the concept design of the new nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət Cultural Immersion School:

Image 1: Preliminary design

Image 2: Preliminary floor plan of the new school. The 4 classrooms and special needs room at the top of the image not part of the current build, but are planning for future expansion.

Once again I stress the importance of community engagement into the design of the school. Nothing is set in stone at this time. It is through your experiences, cultural knowledge, concerns and any valued wisdom that which is going to make all the difference in making this truly a school of our own.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Sandie Derrickson, School Design Coordinator
[email protected]
250 306-4404

School Design Phase Update 3

April 20, 2021 - Over the last month, 27 community members [27 calls (left 6 messages) 5 emails, 5 Facebook messenger and spoke directly with 9 Elders, 12 sets of parents] were contacted via telephone to discuss any comments or concerns regarding building of the New Cultural Immersion School. I spoke to community members of all ages. Not just to parents that may or may not send their children to the new school. Surprisingly, many members I spoke with did not know OKIB was building a new school! In the past we relied so much on in person community meetings or a home visit to deliver information. But now due to the pandemic we are limited in our delivery of such important matters. This is a community project and having as much information as possible is important in ensuring it is a success.

In speaking with the membership I asked five questions:

  • Do you have a vision for the New Cultural Immersion School?
  • If the school went to grade 12 would you send your child?
  • Goal of the Cultural Immersion School?
  • If you walked into the school after 5- years of its opening. What would you hope to see?
  • What cultural designs would you like to see in the school?

Summary of community responses:

Do you have vision for the New Cultural Immersion School?

Membership overwhelmingly envision the school to become a meeting place for the OKIB community. A safe place for children and families to experience and learn the knowledge and teachings of OKIB Elders. Membership proposed the concept of there being three pillars of teaching within the school: (1) Parents, Caregivers and Elders who are prepared to participate and support the immersion and learning process at school and at home; (2) Teachers, Instructors and Assistants who immerse themselves in the language and culture; and (3) Design of the school building must exemplify sqwilx culture, history and values. The school building will incorporate all aspects of sqwilx culture through art, murals, sculptures, artifacts, pictures and/or written information that makes the school itself the third teacher within this learning paradigm.

If the school went to grade 12 would you send your child?

Although Indigenous Services Canada will only fund the construction of an elementary school, the design will allow for future expansion of the campus to include a secondary school program. Parents indicated that if a secondary school was available then they would send their children. However, many of those interviewed suggested that there be a division between elementary and secondary school, including a middle school (grade 7-9) before students transitioned to high school (Grades 10-12). Reasons for the division ranged from safety of the younger students to creating independence for the older students.

Goal of the New Cultural Immersion School?

Many respondents felt that sqlixw language and culture must remain the primary focus of the immersion school program and that Provincial requirements should be secondary. Although, some respondents, while supportive of language and cultural immersion, did not want to see students fall behind Provincial standards. However, there was overall consensus that the children, regardless of preference for educational programing, should be educated to a level that is more advanced than that which would be available to them elsewhere.

If you were to walk into the school in 5 years. What would you see?

Many envision seeing and hearing Okanagan/sqlixw culture upon entering the school. Seeing words written in our language to indicate rooms (e. g. classrooms, kitchen, washrooms etc.) and displays of artifacts, historical information, murals depicting the historical journey of the Okanagan/sqlixw people. The school would be like living history museum.

Architectural Design of the School?

There was a lot of discussion around which community artists should be highlighted within the new school design. Many mentioned having a traditional dugout canoe used within the school design. Pictographs to represent our past writings and history should adorn the walls and there should be a large common area in the shape of a qw’ci (pit house) at the centre of the school. Endangered species of plants and grasses should be used throughout the grounds to facilitate learning in how these plants should be cared for. Animal carvings should also be prevalent throughout the building.

Lim’let to all that I have already interviewed and I hope others will come forward and offer me their thoughts on the new school. Unfortunately, community input must be done virtually, either via telephone or Zoom. Please watch for forthcoming community meetings to discuss the design for the new school.

Sandie Derrickson School Design Coordinator
Cell: 250.306.4404
Email: [email protected]

School Design Phase Update 2

February 18, 2021 - OKIB has embarked on the second phase building its NEW Cultural Immersion School. Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) has approved $14 million towards the development and construction of a K4-7 elementary school. The placement of the new school will be adjacent to Snc’c’amala?tn Early Childhood Centre at Komasket Park.

To oversee this large and very important capital project OKIB retained the services of CML Project Management (Kelowna). CML provides professional engineering and project management services, supporting all aspects of this project including budget allocation, contractor and ISC negotiations, and approving of both site and building construction requirements.

Iredale Architects were appointed to oversee the design and construction of the new school. Iredale, located in Vancouver, has worked collaboratively with many First Nations communities throughout BC. Iredale strongly believes that community involvement is essential for delivering a functional and culturally relevant building that the community deserves. Iredale Architects built the Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School for the Penticton Indian Band and also constructed the new addition/renovation to sənsisyustən House of Learning at Westbank First Nation. If you are interested in reviewing these projects and many others, you are encouraged to visit the Iredale webpage

What better community members to ask, about what this new school should look like, than the current students attending nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət. Students were recently asked “What would your dream school look like? Students were encouraged to draw or write what they would want in their dream school. Below you will find some examples of their imaginative and creative work.

OKIB is in the process of setting-up more community involvement meetings. These meetings are designed to inform community and obtain input along each stage of the school design and construction. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 the meetings remain limited to virtual participation on Zoom. I understand this format is not convenient for many community members. Therefore, if you would like anymore information please feel free to email me at [email protected] or call me on my cell 250 306-4404. I would be happy to listen to your ideas and answer your questions.

Sandie Derrickson
School Design Coordinator
Cell: 250.306.4404
Email: [email protected]

New School Committee:

Michael Fotheringham – Interim Executive Director
Brad Janvier – Director of Public Works and Housing
Gareth Jones – Director of Education, Language and Culture
Tanya Saddleman-Joe – Vice Principal, nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət
Lorraine Laddan – Manager, snc’c’amala?tn
Val Chiba – Council Representative
Eric Mitchell – Community Member
Joash Alexis – Assistant to the Executive Director


School Design Phase Update 1

December 9, 2020 - The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) have completed their feasibility study to rebuild nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət, translated as North Okanagan Head of the Lake Place of Learning our sqilxw Ways. Recent approval from the Federal Government has allowed OKIB to advance this project towards building a new, full-size, modern elementary school for grades K4 through seven, at Komasket Park.

OKIB has now entered into the Design Phase of this project and out team continues to work closely with the community, staff, our architectural firm and our engineering consultants to identify the fundamental elements pertaining this school. These fundamental elements include; classroom sizes, library, cafeteria/lunchroom, language and culture room and a full-size gymnasium. All of these elements are important for building a functional and welcoming school for students.

Functionality is in the for-front of the project. We have contacted other First Nations School to enquire as to what does and does not work in their schools. Many have mentioned that the cultural esthetics of every school are beautiful but it does not always work with the functionality of the school. As we are striving to have as much cultural elements in the design we are aware that functionality is of importance in this project.

The staff of our Cultural Immersion School play an important role in guiding the project team as to what would work best for the students and staff. Their input is what is going to make this school an encouraging, safe, and fun learning environment for children.

Even though we have many mountains yet to climb in completing this project we have a confident team who are prepared to make a difference in this community. We are working closely with Chief and Council and community to ensure a school is built to meet all future needs of the children and the community. It is our hope the school will be completed by September 2023.

School Spaces Funded vs Unfunded

School Spaces
This graphic shows the proportion of the new school that is funded versus unfunded. Solid lines indicate the funded portion. Dotted lines represent the unfunded portion.

School Design Community Meeting

The first School Design Community Meeting took place by Zoom on Thursday, December 3, 2020 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. We reviewed these documents at the meeting:

To join the meeting, simply click the link below. The Zoom software will automatically download and open the meeting.

Click here to join the Zoom meeting.

Meeting ID: 878 0374 7797
Passcode: 451431

Notice School Design Community Meeting

Click here to join the Zoom meeting.

Meeting ID: 878 0374 7797
Passcode: 451431

Meet the School Design Phase Team

Design Phase Workplan and Schedule

You can view the preliminary workplan and schedule for the design phase of the school replacement project here.

School Feasibility Study Report

You must be an OKIB member to access the report. To access the report you must log in to your OKIB account on

Childcare Photo 6 No Text

The vision for a new school has been shaped by many over the years. Watch this video made in 2013 where students of nk̓məplqs iʔ snmaḿýʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilʷtət share their ideas, hopes, and explain why they value the educational experience found only in our Cultural Immersion School.