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ʔaq̓am Community and Purcell Colegiate Incorporated sign Memorandum of Understanding

Document articulates partnership between two parties in development of International School
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between The ʔaq̓am Community and Purcell Colegiate Incorporated. (Front row (L-R) Joe Pierre, ʔaq’am Community Chief; Duncan MacLeod, Purcell Collegiate Incorporated CEO/Head of School. (Back row (L-R) Arthur Luk, Purcell Collegiate Incorporated Corporate Director; Jaret Thompson, Purcell Collegiate Incorporated Corporate Board Chair; Julie Birdstone, ʔaq’am Community Councillor; Jason Andrew, ʔaq’am Community Councillor).

The ʔaq̓am Community and Purcell Colegiate Incorporated (PCI), who is in the process of building an international boarding school in Kimberley, have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between them.

The signing took place on Tuesday, Oct. 12 following 19 months of collaborative discussions and cooperative initiatives, and the MOU serves to articulate the partnership between the two parties in the development of Purcell Collegiate, as well as laying the groundwork to expand ʔaq̓am’s role to include shares in PCI and have a seat on its corporate board of directors.

“I am very happy that the Community of ʔaqʾam and Purcell International have signed this Memorandum of Understanding – having the opportunity to work hand in hand with the school in receiving students from around the world is very exciting,” said Chief Joe Pierre of the ʔaq̓am Community.

“I want the students to know that they have come to the homelands of the Ktunaxa people from the moment they arrive on campus, as well when they return home, I want them to be able to speak eloquently about their Ktunaxa hosts. ʔaqʾam looks forward to the future with our neighbours up in K’ukamaʔnam (Ktunaxa name for Kimberley).”

In a joint press release announcing this signing of the MOU, PCI quoted the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, who has highlighted education as the key to reconciliation, saying, “Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it.”

READ MORE: ʔaq̓am, Ktunaxa Nation mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

“The ʔaq’am Community has already contributed significantly to and helped guide the development of Purcell Collegiate School,” said Duncan MacLeod, Head of School at PCI. The MOU recognizes those contributions, establishes pathways and mechanisms for ongoing cooperation, and actualizes PCS’s acknowledgement that it sits on the traditional and ancestral homeland of the Ktunaxa peoples.

“Our pioneering work together will now be extended to include the collaborative promotion of the unique corporate engagement model the MOU articulates. It is our shared goal to attract government attention to what we are doing, how we are doing it, and why.”

Carl Ninine, CAO of the ʔaq̓am Community, added that the MOU is a great step in helping position the ʔaq̓am Community into the education of youth.

“With the cultural and educational capital that ʔaq̓am brings, we will give future generations greater understanding of Ktunaxa traditions, language, and culture, what we need in Truth and Reconciliation and eventually a decolonised ʔaq̓am future,” Ninine said. “ʔaq̓amnik̓ (ʔaq̓am people) are guided by Ka Kniⱡwi·tiyaⱡa (ʔaq̓am thinking) and this is how we have persevered – we are resilient and we drive forward.

“With this MOU, through education we guide youth and create a future we desire.”

PCI describes the new school as a “paradigm-shifting Group 4 independent school,” that intends to change the way education is offered and engaged in B.C.

The intent is that ʔaq̓am contribution of human, cultural and educational capital, will distinguish PCS as a learning opportunity for students and elevate it as a “social impact incubator” and “economic development generator,” as well as supporting the process of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, and serving as a “lighthouse project towards a decolonized future.”

PCI said in their press release that the decision to locate Purcell Collegiate School in Marysville is that it is a central location to benefit Kimberley, ʔaq̓am and Cranbrook and “extend and enhance” opportunities to increase educational, economic and social impacts.

READ MORE: Purcell Collegiate Incorporated hosts open house

To learn more about Purcell Collegiate visit