Opokaa'sin Early Intervention

Location: Lethbridge, AB

Year: 2014-2015

Status: Complete

Type: Educational

Client: Breznik

In 1996, a society was formed to fill the need for Aboriginal
support services in Lethbridge, Alberta. “Opokaa’sin”, or “all the
children”, was the collaborative effort of a number of agencies
who perceived the important role children have in society,
thus the great privilege and responsibility that parents and
mentors hold. Consistent with true Blackfoot spirituality, social
workers established that individual potential was best realized
within a strong community culture, a supportive environment of
grandparents and elders. The nurturing of social competency in
the young provided them the trust and confidence to overcome
inevitable setbacks. This early “anchoring” became the basis
for all of Opokaa’sin’s child and family programs.
Having faced operational challenges and opposition,
Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society’s Director, Tanya Pace-
Crosschild initiated a new facility suitable for the advancement
of these programs. The architectural programming would
consider all the social dynamics and nuances associated with
the work, injecting new life into the vision. The existing building,
located on a major artery on the Northside of Lethbridge,
provided an ideal space for these programs to be potentialized.
The high airy ceilings presented an open environment for many
activities as well as the potential for many classrooms.
The project received additional nurturing from Ted Breznik of
RC Construction, who, after His own experiences of a family
tragedy, personally embraced the mission. Mr. Breznik
provided much-needed support to Ms. Pace-Crosschild,
overseeing important finishing details. Cultural motifs and
colours envelop the spacious interiors. Office partitions array
the perimeter of the open concept design, the central gathering
space providing a sense of belonging and inclusion. The sense
of safety and ownership is shared by its members; it has
become home for many aboriginal families.

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