Skip to main content

Construction of a new school in the Cowichan Valley building relationships

Construction is currently underway on a new secondary school in the Cowichan Valley. It is scheduled to open its doors to students in September of 2024.

“It’s a very, very beautiful project,” said Henry Friesen, senior superintendent for Urban One Builders.

The project that the Superintendent is talking about is called Quw’utsun Secondary.

“I’m super excited,” said Miguel Zapiona, vice president of Urban One Builders.

That company is in charge of the construction of the new school.

Zapiona says for him, the most important part of the project is the relationships that have been built on the North Cowichan construction site.

“The concept of the high school is with the contribution of the Cowichan Tribes,” said Zapiona.

“We were involved right from the vision statement to just before they awarded the contract,” said Stephanie Atleo, a councillor with Cowichan Tribes.

The design and functionality of the school has been a full collaboration between the Cowichan Tribes and the Cowichan Valley School District.

“When we found out that we were going to be getting a new school, the board looked at that and said, ‘How can we make the building of a new school an act of reconciliation?’” said Mike Russel, director of communications for the Cowichan Valley School District.

“I’ve think they’ve paved the way for other school districts that want to do this,” said Atleo.

She says the school will be a welcoming environment for First Nations students, one that will include outdoor learning spaces.

“Our kids are visual learners, they are hands-on learners,” said Atleo. “We learn on the land, and it’s just kind of engrained in us.”

It wasn’t just the design of the building that has taken collaboration.

“We invited the Cowichan Tribes to be part of the contractors,” said Zapiona.

Contractors like Raven Stone Construction, a local First Nations company, are tasked with prepping the site for the building’s construction.

Alana Keller was the supervisor on that crew.

“It was great to be a part of the project and going forward with it,” said Keller.

Both of her children will attend the school in the future.

Cowichan Secondary School is 73 years old. Currently, 900 students attend the school.

Once the $86 million Quw’utsun Secondary is complete, it will accommodate 1,100 students with the ability to expand to keep up with the Cowichan Valley’s population growth.

“It makes us proud to be a part of this project,” said Zapiona.

It’s a project that has strengthened relationships in the community.

“It’s been a fantastic experience and everybody’s excited to see this school come to fruition,” said Russel.

While setting the next generation up for success, “we’ve created that safe space where they can explore and figure out what their future could be,” said Atleo. Top Stories

Grocer profits set to exceed record in 2023, expert says, ahead of committee meeting

Profits in the Canadian grocery sector will likely exceed $6 billion in 2023, setting a new record as they rise eight per cent from last year, according to the Centre for Future Work. New research by the progressive research institute found that food retailers are now earning more than twice as much profit as they did pre-pandemic.

Stay Connected