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Walshe Crossroads Campus celebrates its new location

First Nations dancer

First Nations dancers preformed at the grand opening of Walshe Crossroads Campus.

Blackfoot drum group

Blackfoot drummers provided the soundtrack for the grand opening of Walshe Crossroads Campus.

wilfred yellowwings

Blackfoot elder Wilfred Yellow Wings provided the blessing at the grand opening of the new Walshe Crossroads Campus location.

A historic Fort Macleod location has new life as the home of an alternative school program.
Walshe Crossroads Campus held the grand opening Wednesday of its new location at the 1884 North West Mounted Police Barracks provincial historic site.
Principal Bill Forster said the new local Walshe Crossroads Campus is a new adventure in working with the Fort Macleod community.
A new site for the alternative school was needed last June when Lethbridge College closed its satellite campus in Fort Macleod.
“When we found out that because of some financial issues the college had to close the building and we had to find a new place it was a bit of a scramble,” Forster said of finding a new location. “It actually worked out really well.”
Fort Macleod Historical Association representative Terry Daniel said the idea of moving Walshe Crossroads Campus to the barracks developed out of a meeting involving the Chamber of Commerce and F.P. Walshe school.
During a discussion about the Chamber offering Junior Achievement courses at F.P. Walshe school, it was mentioned that Walshe Crossroads Campus needed a new home.
The outreach school was housed in the Lethbridge College satellite campus building on 26th Street.
When Daniel learned the college had announced it was closing the satellite campus in June, forcing the outreach school to find a new location, he suggested The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police.
Daniel reasoned that the Fort Museum had space available and could use the revenue.
That discussion led to the suggestion Walshe Crossroads Campus relocate to the vacant 1884 North West Mounted Police Barracks provincial historic site managed by the Fort Macleod Historical Association, of which Daniel is a member.
“We are very happy that we can build this relationship with the school,” Daniel said.
The alternative school uses two buildings on the barracks site. Artifacts were removed and securely stored.
Forster noted the alternative school has evolved from a small program with two staff members and 10 students and last year grew to 70 students.
“It started out as a fairly traditional outreach program and has really grown into an alternative program,” Forster said. “Really it’s about the feel, and it’s about the family and the community and we want to continue that and this facility is so great for that.”
Forster said the two buildings the alternative school will use are well-suited for the program.
Forster praised the Fort Macleod Historical Association, Livingstone Range School Division staff, students and their families.
“It takes everybody,” Forster said.
Academic counsellor Karen Krammer echoed Forster’s praise for the people who helped the school set up in its new location.
“It’s so great to join together in friendship,” Krammer said.
Krammer said by helping young people succeed is critical to the success of the community.
“In order to do that you have to have a sense of belonging, you have to feel like you belong and that you’re missed when you’re not there, and that we care about you,” Krammer said.
The new location provides a safe setting in which students can develop that sense of belonging.
Carl Brave Rock of the Blood Tribe, who is majoring in Native American Studies at the University of Lethbridge, spoke about the history of the barracks as it relates to the Blackfoot people.
“Blackfoot history is Canadian history,” said Brave Rock, who has worked for six years as an interpreter at The Fort — Museum of the North West Mounted Police.
Brave Rock talked about the first contact Blackfoot people had with Europeans in the late 1600s, Hudson’s Bay trading posts, whisky traders, settlers and the arrival of the North West Mounted Police.
“You young people need to stand up and be proud to be Blackfoot,” Brave Rock encouraged the students.
The opening ceremony included a performance by the drum and dance group from F.P. Walshe school.
“We decided to get this drum and dance group going so our children can grow up with that sense of identity, to be proud of who they are as Blackfoot students,” said Kyle Blood, a child and youth care worker at F.P. Walshe school.

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