SGEI to transition to new facility

Sam Odrowski

Seven Generations Education Institute students currently are in the process of moving into their new facility here.
Staff offices from the Nanicost building have moved in and SGEI CEO Brent Tookenay said they’re selecting certain programs to set up in the new building now.
“We’re just playing it out on a program by program basis and what’s going to fit best at this time,” he remarked.
“It will be a mix and match, as of right now, until we get our bearings in the new building,” he conceded.
Of the 20 programs offered at SGEI, a few will be set up by next week and holding their class inside the new $16-million facility, which is located along Highway 11 just before Couchiching First Nation.
But all classes will be set up for the 2019-20 school year, Tookenay said.
“I would say the building is 95 percent complete right now, maybe even more,” he noted.
Tookenay told the Times that he will have a better idea of where they are at with finishing the building in a couple of weeks.
SGEI students currently are spread out across Fort Frances receiving their education. The new facility will provide a centralized space where they can learn.
It will provide students with campus amenities like a library, maker space, and computer lab.
“It’s going to bring a campus feel and a school feel,” Tookenay enthused. “It will be their school and they’ll feel a real part of a community.
“That’s the one thing we’ve been challenged to do because we had limited space and when you have students spread all over the place, it is hard,” he reasoned.
“We’re really looking forward to that community feel and that campus feel for these students, kind of like what we have up in Kenora,” Tookenay added.
Staffing has been a challenge with the new facility and SGEI will continue to hire everyone from custodians to additional programming staff to meet the school’s needs.
“It’s a bit of a moving target right now as we expand our programming and knowing what we need in this new facility,” Tookenay admitted.
The SGEI board, meanwhile, will meet next week to discuss plans for a grand opening of the new building.
A grand opening originally was being planned for the summer, which Tookenay said could still happen, but they will have a much better idea in the next few weeks.
He is thankful to all the people who have made the new facility possible, including the SGEI’s board of directors, chiefs and council from the 10 First Nations, and the chiefs that govern the Agency One land it sits on.
“They’ve been great in helping with this,” Tookenay lauded. “They’ve been just fantastic in helping to make this a reality.”
He also thanked all the staff at SGEI for working day and night to make the transition as seamless as possible.