Skip to content

Maskwacis celebrates grand opening of the Theresa C. Wildcat Early Learning Centre

(Photo submitted)

Located on Ermineskin Cree Nation in Maskwacis, the Theresa C. Wildcat Early Learning Centre celebrated its grand opening on Dec. 8.

The event marked a new chapter in Maskwacis Education Schools Commission’s (MESC) early learning education programming, officials said.

From the pipe ceremony and inspiring remarks to the unveiling of a plaque honouring late Theresa C. Wildcat’s accomplishments, each element of the event reflected the excitement and hopes for education in Maskwacis, according to a release.

The project was initiated by Ermineskin Cree Nation to replace the aging Ermineskin Kindergarten School and was followed through to completion by MESC after the amalgamation of the four school authorities in Maskwacîs.

The facility is designed for four and five-year-old kindergarten students.

It features a central gathering space with a star blanket pattern on the floor and a glass-covered structure above resembling a teepee.

On either side are two classroom pods, each with five classrooms and learning commons designed around a stylized two-storey tree and an indoor slide.

The building reflects Cree culture with a Cree-specific classroom, a cultural room, as well as a land-based learning park and play area.

The exterior of the building is designed to be reminiscent of a traditional drum and has a Plains Cree beaded motif on some of the exterior panels.

The federal government has invested $19.2 million to support the school.

“Congratulations to the Maskwacîs Education School Commission (MESC) and Ermineskin Cree Nation on the official grand opening of the Theresa C. Wildcat Early Learning Centre,” said Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous Services.

“Your collaborative efforts and hard work have resulted in this truly extraordinary facility. It will serve students by providing excellence in education and by celebrating the knowledge and values of the Maskwacis Cree.

“This school will ensure the generations to come will have a fair and equal chance to succeed.”

Theresa Cecilia Wildcat (1927-2011), a citizen of Ermineskin Cree Nation, received her teaching certificate from the University of Alberta in 1952 and became the first teacher from Maskwacis.

She has been described as a visionary and dedicated educator, a pioneer in the field of education, a great inspiration and role model, and an advocate for education and her community.

“She set an example of 60 years of dedicated service with a sincere and deep interest for the betterment of her people, the advancement of First Nations education, and the preservation of Cree language and history,” noted the release.

A tribute to Wildcat by her son, Dr. Brian Wildcat, was also a moment of reflection, allowing the community to honour her memory and contributions to education.

The ceremony wrapped up with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Wildcat family and delegates.

“The grand opening ceremony was an uplifting celebration of education and the vibrant future that awaits our children. We’re excited to be able to create an environment that is a source of inspiration and joy, nurturing the potential within each child,” said Dr. Shauna Bruno, MESC board chair.

(Photo submitted)