Investing in education is investing in communities

Danielle Larivee
MLA for Lesser Slave Lake

People in Lesser Slave Lake care deeply about education.

When I first ran for office, I heard it wherever I went. People wanted kids here to have the same opportunities they would in downtown Edmonton or Calgary. They told me that schools are more than buildings, they’re community gathering places, major employers and reasons why families put roots down to stay.

Going door to door, the people I met were also deeply concerned about a Conservative government threatening to make drastic cuts.

As a mother of school-aged children, I was right with them. I told people that Rachel Notley was on their side, pushing for stable funding for schools and hospitals, something I’ve been proud to uphold as a cabinet minister and to talk about wherever I go.

Last week in Wabasca, I stood beside the Premier as she announced a $25-million modernization of Mistassiniy School, one of 20 school renovations and builds promised provincewide in Budget 2018.

Wabasca has been waiting for years for this news, after previous governments promised much but failed to deliver. Thanks to a Premier who grew up in northern Alberta and who understands what this means, Mistassiniy School will be able to grow with the community for years to come.

It’s more than a building. The changes will make a transformative difference for students and their families, for Principal Shelly Hamelin and teachers, for the town and for Bigstone Cree Nation.

Over the next four years, the community will witness a ‘down to the studs’ rebuild, moving out from mechanical and electrical upgrades and improvements to natural lighting. And because students will be able to benefit sooner, it’s better than building from scratch, a process that would add years to the process when time is of the essence.

Upgrades to the school’s Career and Technology Studies area will include a food classroom with a kitchen to inspire would-be culinary artists, chefs and to provide a foundation for good nutrition.

A brand new gym will not only give students a better place to practice their serves, slap shots and layups, it will give the community a place to rally when events come to town.

A new cultural space planned for the school will make a major difference for students, the vast majority of which are Indigenous. It’s important for these students to have opportunities to connect with their history, to be able to pass that on to future generations.

All of these upgrades will make life better, providing new opportunities for students and staff. And it will go a long way to improve teacher recruitment and retention.

As I go door to door, I still hear from residents concerned about the future of education in Lesser Slave Lake. As we get closer to another election, they’re worried about those who would make major cuts to education and public services we rely on.

There’s still more to be done, I tell them. There is still work our government is doing to make sure that Albertans feel the benefit of economic recovery, which is why we’re focusing on a path to balance, to diversifying our economy and to getting market access for our energy industry.

Rachel Notley is standing up for Alberta, fighting hard for pipelines so that all Albertans benefit from our natural resources. She is still passionate about education, refusing to sacrifice essential services Albertans rely on to pay for tax giveaways for those at the top.

Our kids deserve the best education we can give them, and that commitment should not be conditional on the international price of oil. We won’t make reckless cuts to the things that matter to families and communities.

As your MLA and as a mother myself, I understand that an investment in schools is an investment in kids and communities.

It’s an investment in coming generations of Albertans. And I’m proud to stand with you.

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