Blue Quills Indian Residential School originated in Lac la Biche, AB. It was also known as the Sacred Heart Indian Residential School and later the Saddle Lake Boarding School. This school was operational in Lac la Biche between 1862 and 1898. The school was of Roman Catholic denomination and was under the jurisdiction of the Saddle Lake Indian Agency. In 1898, the school moved to Saddle Lake, AB from Lac la Biche, AB, it would move again to St. Paul, AB in 1931, where it was renamed St. Paul’s Boarding School. Blue Quills became the first Native-administered school in Canada in 1970.
Also known as Lac la Biche Boarding School, Blue Quill’s was open between 1862 and 1898 in Lac la Biche, Alberta. In 1898 it moved to Saddle Lake, Alberta and was renamed the Sacred Heart Indian Residential School, and later the Saddle Lake Boarding School. In 1931 it was moved to St. Paul, Alberta and renamed St. Paul’s Boarding School. This school was under Roman Catholic administration until 1970 when it became the first Native-administrated school in Canada. This school was under the jurisdiction of the Saddle Lake Indian Agency.
In the 1960s, a major confrontation took place at the Saddle Lake Reserve in Alberta. After several years of deteriorating conditions and administrative changes, parents protested the lack of transparency at the Blue Quills Indian School in 1969. In response, the government decided to close the school, convert the building into a residence, and enroll students in a public school five kilometres away in St. Paul, Alberta. The TRC Report states:
Fearing their children would face racial discrimination in St. Paul, parents wished to see the school transferred to a private society that would operate it both as a school and a residence. The federal government had been open to such a transfer if the First Nations organization was structured as a provincial school division. The First Nations rejected this, saying that a transfer of First Nations education to the provincial authority was a violation of Treaty rights. (pg. 84)
In the summer of 1970, members of the Saddle Lake community occupied the building and demanded the right to run it themselves. Their protests were successful and Blue Quills became the first Native-administered school in the country. It continues to operate today as the Blue Quills First Nations College, a tribal college.
In 2015, the BlueQuills First Nations College officially became University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills under accreditation of the National Association of Higher of Indigenous Institutes of Higher Learning.