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Fort Resolution school reviving its trades shop

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 28, 2011

DENINU KU'E/FORT RESOLUTION - Deninu School in Fort Resolution is reviving its trades shop after 16 years.

The shop - officially known as a career and technologies services shop - has its official reopening tentatively set for March 14.

For the last decade and a half, it has been used for storage.

The rebirth of the trades shop is an initiative of Dan Summers, who is in his second year as principal of Deninu School.

When he first arrived at the school, Summers said the outgoing principal mentioned there was a storage area that used to be a trades shop.

"My immediate reaction was, well, let's get it up and going again," he recalled.

Summers said the shop will be an important addition.

"It will keep students in the school," he said. "It's an incentive for attendance and for students to see a purpose. It's not only about the academics now. It's creating a life skill you can potentially use for your advantage."

The trades shop has been revived with $100,000 in funding from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment (EC&E).

"It's all brand-new stuff," said Summers. "It's all General International equipment, which some would argue is the best equipment you could get."

The equipment includes, among other things, a cylinder sander, belt and wheel sanders, two drill presses (one for woodwork and the other for metal work), air compressor system, lathe, planer, table saw and band saw.

"And then we have around $30,000-$40,000 worth of hand tools, most of them cordless," Summers said.

Some of the funding is also being put towards the school's well-used kitchen, which adjoins the trades shop.

Summers said it's been a year since he made the initial proposal for funding.

"We started cleaning it out almost immediately, but we started moving equipment in and started preparing it for the equipment probably in May," he said.

In September, students began to learn safety for hand tools to get ready to use the trades shop.

"We will probably have the kids going in there by mid-March to start looking at machinery safety," Summers said.

Eventually, regular classes will be held in the trades shop.

Summers said it is hoped students will be making a small craft, perhaps a birdhouse, by May or June to introduce them to the use of basic machinery.

The first year for the trades shop will focus on woodworking, along with small metal work and pottery, since the shop has a kiln.

In the legislative assembly on Feb. 16, Tu Nedhe MLA Tom Beaulieu commended the principal, teachers and ECE for the trades shop initiative.

"However, all is not well in this area," Beaulieu said. "We still have students in Tu Nedhe that have yet to access career and technology services. More specifically, I'm referring to the Lutsel K'e Dene School."

The MLA said the school has obtained funding for equipment, but a building is needed.

Beaulieu said a new community learning centre is currently under construction in Lutsel K'e and the old centre could be ready for use as a trades shop at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.

However, he said the GNWT plans to decommission the old centre rather than use it as a temporary trades shop until the Lutsel K'e Dene School expands. That's because money has not been found to operate, maintain and provide custodial services for the building.

Education Minister Jackson Lafferty responded that the money used to operate the existing learning centre will be transferred to the new centre.

"At this point, we don't have the additional dollars to put into the system," Lafferty said. "This is an area we can look at for next year's planning session."

The minister said he will have his department work with the Lutsel K'e District Education Authority on the matter.