March 2021

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M A R C H 2 0 2 1 | 47 Trout Lake School & Elizabeth Quintal School P H OTO G R A P H Y BY J O EL K L A SS EN /CO U RT E SY S TA N T EC TROUT LAKE SCHOOL & ELIZABETH QUINTAL SCHOOL by ROBIN BRUNET S ince the signing of its historic land claim agreement in 2010, Peerless Trout First Nation (PTFN) has made significant strides in developing infrastructure in its north- ern communities of Peerless Lake and Trout Lake. This includes construc- tion of two new schools with funding shared by the Government of Alberta, the PTFN, and Northern Lakes College Now, thanks to close collaboration with Stantec and A&E Group (A&E Architectural & Engineering Group Inc.), PTFN has two new learning facilities: the K-8 Peerless Lake School (recently renamed the Elizabeth Quintal School) and the K-12 Trout Lake School, opened for local students in September 2020. While distinct from each other visually, the Elizabeth Quintal and Trout Lake facilities share common design elements essential to learning in Northern Alberta. Both are open and airy, with an abundance of glaz- ing that brings natural light deep into the facilities. "It's the complete oppo- site of the school they replaced, which was dark," says Daphne Mai'Stoina, superintendent, Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council Education Authority. Also, the new schools proudly cel- ebrate their Woodland Cree heritage and strong connection to the land: Elizabeth Quintal's entrance is aug- mented by a tepee with a light feature, and Trout Lake's dramatically curved metal entrance awning echoes the shape of a canoe. "Plus, the second level of Elizabeth Quintal looks down on a beautiful inlaid floor tile repre- sentation of regional lakes," says the school's principal, Connie Molcak. As ambitious as these projects were in a remote community where the only access road is unpaved, the key compo- nent to the success was the relationship forged between locals and Stantec back in 2016. "The community really warmed to them," says Jason Wigton, PTFN's band manager and capital proj- ects manager. "They listened to our needs and helped flesh everything out." Heather Bretz, principal at Stantec, says, "Through numerous public meetings with students, staff, parents, as well as Chief and Council, we dis- covered what the community needed to make these schools a success. Some of the best design features, such as a reading loft in Elizabeth Quintal School, came directly from the minds of the students." She adds, "To bridge the gap between the ideas and the design, our team implemented virtual real- ity renderings to help the client fully understand our proposed solutions." According to Bretz, the Elizabeth Quintal school was oriented as a marker of the community's main street, thus creating the ambiance of a small town, and the program- ming reflected the need for students to learn and connect with their tra- ditional ways. "In Trout Lake School, a specialized clean lab allows teach- ers to engage in the rendering of a moose, transferring to the commer- cial kitchen for preparation, and presenting the moose to the commu- nity in the main atrium of the school," she says. "All spaces are adjacent to each other to allow for seamless flow." Additionally, an oversized gym became a highlight of the design. Elizabeth Quintal was designed to contain a music/theatre stage facing not a dark auditorium, but a double- height flex space with floor-to-ceiling glazing and an adjacent kitchen. "Elizabeth Quintal is distinct because it has a single glazed corridor running the length of the school," says Wigton.

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