Over 150 dignitaries, members of the community and Edmonton Oilers staff and players gathered at Edmonton’s Inner City High School on Tuesday evening to help celebrate the newly renovated facility and the work being accomplished within. Student-led tours helped kick off the Open House followed by well-wishes from an enthusiastic line-up of speakers.
“Tonight is very special to us and Inner City High School,” said Natalie Minckler, Executive Director of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF). “The Foundation has been working with Inner City High for the past eight years and tonight is the culmination of that partnership as we celebrate the grand opening of the school.”
In December of 2010, the EOCF purchased a building (formerly known as the Native Friendship Centre) and helped relocate the entire staff and student body as their former residence in the Boyle Street Community League was slated for demolition. Over the last three years, the EOCF has undertaken major capital improvements throughout the entire 25,000 square foot space, including a new gym, a commercial grade kitchen and recording studios for the students, among other improvements.
“Education is the most powerful tool we have in our lives as individuals and these students are grabbing hold of that opportunity; they’re making themselves better people,” said Brian Simpson, Deputy Chief of Police.
During Simpson’s speech, he shared a story from earlier in the evening when he was being given a tour by Inner City High Student Johnny Mire. Mire had made the comment that he felt safe at the new school and when asked why, he attributed it to the new facility, the care that the teachers display and the various social programs that are now able to exist.
“That’s a very powerful statement because it tells me that safety is very important, but also a lot of these students probably have not had the opportunity for that safety in their lives. That’s now being provided and it’s making a difference.”
“The EOCF’s involvement has been critical,” said Joe Cloutier, Inner City High School Principal. “Attendance has increased, retention has increased and the students are happy to be here; they feel like it’s their home.”
For many of the students who come from impoverished social backgrounds and lives rooted in the street, the concept of home was never realized, but with the help of the Oilers Foundation, the community and most importantly the staff at Inner City High School, Edmonton’s inner-city youth now have a safe place to gather, thrive and succeed.
For more information on the life-changing work being accomplished at Inner City High School, please visit oilersfoundation.ca.