A Parsons Creek elementary school bearing the name of a well-respected late Métis elder is officially open.
The Fort McMurray Catholic School District celebrated the grand opening of Elsie Yanik Catholic School Tuesday morning, which included speeches from family members, dignitaries, and the Métis community.
The event was purposely scheduled on what would have been Yanik’s 101st birthday.
“It’s overwhelming, I could cry all day,” said Lillian Matthiessen, Yanik’s middle daughter.
The FMCSD annouced the facility would be named after Yanik in spring 2016, she passed away in November of that year.
‘Kindness is contagious’ is a phrase Yanik would often say, something that was mentioned during many of the speeches and what Matthiesssen wants people to remember.
“I want people to remember that my mom was a very outgoing, very busy, very giving person. She loved everybody.”
Elsie Yanik was no stranger to school’s within the FMCSD often offering blessings, meeting with the students, and attended feasts.
“She was an intergral part of who we are. She really embodies what it is to be part of the Catholic school system through her work with the Catholic Women’s League and her work with the church out in Fort Chipewyan,” said Superitendant George McGuigian.
“I mean we’re on Treaty 8 land and how fitting is that – that we grow the culture and we grow the history for people to understand just how important she is to the Catholic school system and the community at large.”
Longtime Trustees Recognized
Two other promitient members of the Catholic School District were also honoured during the grand opening.
It was annouced the leaning commons within the school will be named after Geraldine and Jim Carbery.
“With Geraldine’s passing two years ago, we were looking for a way to honour not just her but Jim as well. Both were long time supporters of Catholic Education, serving as Trustees; Geraldine being our longest serving until her passing. It was an honour for us to have Jim and family in attendance today as we unveiled the name,” said McGuigan.
Elsie Yanik, the 12th FMCSD school, currently houses roughly 200 students – with room to expand to 600.