Welcome Messages - Purcell Collegiate School


Purcell Collegiate School (PCS) is unique, the only educational opportunity of its kind in North America. The school’s partnership with the ʔaq’am Community of the Ktunaxa First Nation distinguishes it as a learning experience for international and Canadian students alike.

In addition to core academic courses, PCS will offer specialized elective classes in the areas of sustainability, outdoor education, STEM, business and entrepreneurship, leadership, and fine arts. All aspects of the learning experience at PCS will be informed by and infused with the First Peoples Principles of Learning and Indigenous Ways of Knowing.

As a student attending PCS, you will live in the historic St. Eugene Mission in the ʔaq’am Community and learn in state-of-the-art, post-secondary level facilities at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. That contrasted experience of old and new is representative of PCS’s commitment to the “weaving” of traditional knowledge and modern approaches, a paradigm shift being embraced by universities, corporations, and governments worldwide.

At the high school level, PCS is leading the way and as a result, our students will be leaders as well—in a new society, a new economy, and a new vision for the future of our planet.

Welcome to Purcell Collegiate, an international school that embraces the need for transformative learning and sustainable thinking, providing an educational experience that is place-based in nature but global in scope, and that delivers a unique, close-knit community experience that nurtures social conscience and fosters thoughtful leadership.

Duncan MacLeod
CEO and Head of School


Welcome to Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis

Kiʔsuʔk kyukyit!

That means “Welcome” in Ktunaxa, the language of my people, the host First Nation for your stay in Canada.

As Nasuʔkin (Chief) for my community, I am a leader, and it is in that capacity that I am welcoming you today. I’m also recognized in my community and throughout my nation as a storyteller.

Our history as a people has been retained and shared orally for millennia; it’s in our stories and so in telling them I’m also an educator. And it’s in that capacity that I have learned this: how we learn can be as important as what we learn. And how you will learn as a student at Purcell Collegiate, living in my community of ʔaq’am, distinguishes the educational experience we are offering from all others in Canada and around the world.

Your learning is going to be place-based and experiential; it will incorporate the First Peoples Principles of Learning and explore Indigenous Ways of Knowing; and it will reconnect you with the past to change the way you think about the future. You will get to experience, to learn about, and grow in the Ktunaxa concept of ?a-kxam’is q’api qapsin (all living things). Everything on our planet is connected.

At Purcell Collegiate, with the guidance and support of educators and knowledge holders in the ʔaq’am Community, students will learn and experience first-hand how our traditional ways of engaging and knowing the land can be understood and applied to modern society’s needs and goals.

This will reveal a blended and balanced way forward that is inclusive not just of all people, but all life. Because it is all connected. That is inclusivity. That is sustainability. That is ʔa-kxam’is q’api qapsin.

That’s also Truth and Reconciliation. Did you know that you will be living in a former residential school when you attend Purcell Collegiate and live in the ʔaq’am Community? It’s called St. Eugene Mission (SEM) and today it is a beautiful resort hotel with a recently-adapted boarding capacity for Purcell Collegiate students. It is a great place for you to live and also an important place for you to learn. The truth is that SEM was one of many institutions built to eliminate the language and culture of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

By living amongst us and learning about and from us, you are helping us reclaim this building as a place where our language, culture and knowledge are celebrated, appreciated, and shared. As such, you will be both experiencing and contributing to reconciliation. And you will be living, breathing, and making history while you do.

Welcome to Canada and welcome to beautiful British Columbia. But most importantly, welcome to Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis and the ʔaq’am Community. See you soon!

Chief Joe Pierre
Nasuʔkin (Aq’am Community Chief)