New School on Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation supports inclusive education for future generations

News release

Project inspired creation of Alexis Nakota-owned Hill Plain Construction Services to steward further economic development for Indigenous communities

January 17, 2024 — Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Treaty 6 Territory, Alberta — Indigenous Services Canada

Today, Chief Tony Alexis and the Council of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, along with Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada, celebrated the official opening of Chief Aranazhi School for grades 5-12, located on Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. Alexis Nakota led the construction of the new school in partnership and collaboration with the Government of Canada.

In addition to quality education in an environment that celebrates Alexis Nakota’s culture and traditions, Chief Aranazhi School provides career and technology studies and prepares students for post-secondary education and employment opportunities. The $20.8-million facility also doubles as a community centre with an oversized gym, a fitness room, a commercial kitchen and a ceremonial space. The grounds have been updated with an outdoor ice rink and a playground to support community recreation activities.

The experience and momentum generated by completing the school construction project inspired Alexis Nakota to found Hill Plain Construction Services (Hill Plain), which has become a catalyst for other economic development in the community. This Alexis Nakota-owned company provides comprehensive construction project management in the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, as well as in other Indigenous communities. Hill Plain continues to advance economic development opportunities and foster partnerships for major projects while focusing on sustainable development, social responsibility and preservation of Indigenous culture.

Economic prosperity is a priority for Indigenous communities and Canada. While Economic Reconciliation means different things to many, evidence shows that it is critical to Indigenous self-determination and will address the many ways a colonial system undermined Indigenous prosperity throughout history. Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is leading the way to a more equitable future with several projects at various stages of development:

  • In June 2021, Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation acquired 100% ownership of Backwoods Energy Services. Since acquiring Backwoods Energy Services, Alexis Nakota has increased the company’s asset value by over 600%. At present, Backwoods Energy is one of the largest Indigenous-community-owned companies in Canada. It is the largest employer of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation band members and the primary source of income in the community.
  • Construction of a 50-kilometre waterline is part of phase 2 of the West Inter Lake District (WILD) Regional Water Services Commission. The project will connect Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Onoway, Alberta Beach, and Lac Ste Anne Summer Villages to the Phase 1 waterline extension to Wabamun Lake.
  • Feasibility study for the development of a water and sanitary line tie-in land adjacent to Highway 43 for the future Thomas Potts Business Park.
  • In October 2019, a new potable water pumphouse was commissioned at Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. This pumphouse connects the Nation to a treated water supply that ties back to EPCOR Utilities Inc. in the City of Edmonton through the West Inter Lake District (WILD) Regional Water Services Commission. ISC funded the construction of the on reserve components for a total of $9.5M. The off-reserve components were financed by the Government of Alberta through a combination of Water for Life and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Tie-in program. Of note, ISC, recently funded $72,330 in upgrades to the control system at the water pumphouse.


“This stunning new school is the result of the whole community’s inspiring leadership. By allowing access to high-quality education spaces and programming, this new school will help ensure that generations to come will have a fair and equal chance to succeed. It will also play an important role in the economic prosperity of the Nation. This is an important milestone for the Nation and a concrete example of how the federal government can be a partner as communities take the lead on the path to reconciliation.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

"This strategic partnership with the Government of Canada and industry marks a pivotal moment for the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. Chief Aranazhi School will provide a foundation for traditional education while ensuring our youth become masters of every contemporary institution, from arts and culture to math, science and beyond. Through extensive collaboration with government and industry, this project is a testament to our shared vision for a prosperous future. Cutting-edge, this school will help students maintain their culture and identity while preparing them for the exciting opportunities of the future.”

Chief Tony Alexis
Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation

Quick facts

  • Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation #437 is located approximately 80km northwest of Edmonton, AB, on Treaty Six territory.

  • Chief Aranazhi School is named after Mitaushin Aranazhi. Known as ‘Alexis Akanas’ in his Treaty Government name, he signed the adhesion to Treaty Six in 1877 on behalf of the Nakota people.

  • The Government of Canada has committed to investing $2.35 billion until 2024–2025 ($2.27 billion, excluding funding for operating expenses) in First Nations school facilities.

  • Since 2016 and as of September 30, 2023, Indigenous Services Canada has invested $2.02 billion in targeted funds (excluding operating expenses) to support 303 school-related infrastructure projects, 177 of which are complete. These projects will build or renovate 217 schools, 146 of which are complete, benefiting approximately 35,000 students.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Reem Sheet
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Shauna MacDonald
Brookline Public Relations, on behalf of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation

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