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5. Education

Dene High School in 2012 
(photo by Raymond Dauvin)

Ducharme School in 2016 (photo by Raymond Dauvin)

Clearwater River Dene School in 2015 (photo by Raymond Dauvin)

La Loche Schools 2010

33% of the estimated 3300 residents of Lac La Loche are students at the following schools. 

La Loche Community School has two campuses  (Ducharme School and Dene High School)
with a combined enrollment of 900 students and a staff of 100.

Clearwater River Dene School has an enrollment of 200 students and a staff of 15. 

Gabriel Dumont Institute or GDI offers adult education.

Residential Schools

Beauval and Ile a la Crosse

Many La Loche children went to the residential schools in Beauval and Ile a la Crosse. Grey Nuns taught at both of these schools.
In 1939 La Loche had 107 school age children but only 13 attended school. 11 in Beauval and 2 in Ile a la Crosse. (Piercy Report 1944)

The Beauval residential school was for First Nations children.
The history of the Beauval residential school spans the years from 1895 to 1983 when it closed. 
See its history in this link. (in three pages)

The Ile a la Crosse residential school was  for metis children.
The history of the Ile a la Crosse school began with the arrival of three Grey Nun's in 1860. 
The following link gives us the history of this school.

Continued on the next page:     Beauval Residential School

Early La Loche Education

Father Ducharme
        Father Ducharme teaching a group of students in the La Loche rectory in 1939. Note the Dene syllabics on the blackboard.

Father Ducharme taught children their catechism along with the basic school courses during the winter. They also learned to sing. 
The main floor of the rectory was used as a classroom. 
Father Ducharme was fluent in French, Dene and English.

In 1922 Father Ducharme wrote that the residents of Lac Loche all spoke the Dene language.
"The population of Portage La Loche are all French Canadian Metis.  This may be surprising at first sight; because only Dene is spoken at Portage La Loche. 
In reality, one man only is Dene; the others, are decendants of Canadians, coureur de bois, married 
to Dene people.".............

The Grey Nuns

When the Grey Nuns arrived in La Loche in 1943 they taught school and worked in the hospital.

The first Grey Nun teacher was Sister Therese Arcand, a Grey Nun of Metis ancestry born in Green Lake, Sk..(b.1912-d.1991) 
She taught in La Loche for twenty years.
Sister Therese is buried in Isle a la Crosse where she first attended school.(from 1920 to 1929)
She completed her education at Legal, Alberta and St. Mary's High School in Edmonton.
She then received her teaching certificates in Alberta.

The Children of La Loche

The children of La Loche were taught many skills.
They learned about hunting, trapping, fishing and all that was necessary to live.
In the classroom they learned English, adding and subtracting, reading and writing.
All these skills were needed.
These skills meshed together formed their education.

The children also worked when they were old enough.
They hauled water and wood and helped care for their smaller brothers and sisters.
They helped whenever they could and their help was needed.

SHSB Photo: Young man hauling water for the school in the 1940's .

       SHSB Photo: The 1941 school (White School # 1) is shown above the front canoeist. Bishop Lajeunesse is in the canoe.    
         SHSB Photo: Students in front of the White School # 1. This photo was taken 17-24 August, 1945

This school is a whitewashed log building set on a loose stone foundation as described by the Piercy Report of 1944.
Called the Community Day School this school had 23 students in 1942 and 47 students in 1944. 

SHSB Photo: Students in front of the White School # 2 built in 1946.

The girl in the stripped sweater second from the left is Rosaria Murray

Sask. Archives Photo: A La Loche classroom in 1949 being inspected by T. H. Waugh a government official.

The first school in La Loche was built in 1941.

"In 1938, it was estimated that approximately 3,500 children of Native ancestry were unable to access basic schooling. The Reid report on education in northern Saskatchewan in 1939 and the Piercy report that followed in 1944 painted a grim picture of Métis education, particularly in the north. However, it was not until the election of the CCF in 1944 that the Saskatchewan government accepted responsibility for the education of Métis children. Schools were constructed in many communities, and within a decade virtually all Métis children had access to an elementary education."  The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

The White School # 1: The first school was a whitewashed log building set on a loose stone foundation. 
It was built by Aime Janvier and Little Joe Montgrand in 1940. 
The first teacher in 1941 was Mr. Klotz  (Alex Sapowski is mentioned as being the teacher in 1942).
Called the Community Day School this school had 23 students in 1942 and 47 students in 1944. 
This school became the Lajeunesse Hall when a new school was built and used for community functions.

The White School # 2: Built in 1946 the school had two classrooms.  Another classroom was added in 1951 then another in 1955. 
In 1949 the school had 80 students. In 1956 the school had 119 students. (below is a page from the 1956 community newsletter)

The 1979 yearbook photo of Ducharme School shows the White School # 2.  It was expanded in 1958.

Ducharme School being expanded in 1958. (photo by Don Neely (submitted by Craig Neely))

In 1963 a four room school in La Loche was built for $58,990. 
The school was to replace the one built in 1946.
The school had grades one t0 eight with up to 180 students. Star Phoenix March 15, 1963

In 1967 Ducharme School had twelve classrooms.

In 1969 Ducharme School had 125 students in grade one but only 3 students in grade eight. 
The population of the village was 1400. 

In 1974 only two schools in northern Saskatchewan offered a  grade 12 education.

In 1979 Dene High School opened its doors in La Loche.

Note: Parts of this article has been published by the author on wikipedia La Loche Community School

The Piercy Report of 1944 . 
A survey of educational facilities in Northern Saskatchewan.
The next items are pages from this report.
Two pages are on La Loche and Garson Lake
and the next one is on West La Loche.