The Bella Bella Community School opened its door to students in Sept. 1977. This was a result of a lot of work by a small number of people who decided that they no longer wanted to send children away from the community to attend high school. Students in the previous generation had attended residential school and their children in turn, were sent off to boarding homes in order to go beyond grade 7. In 1973, leaders in the community signed an agreement with the federal government to take control over the education of the children and the next four years were dedicated to building and staffing the school. Children no longer need to leave home in order to attend high school.
The very first school in Bella Bella was the Indian Day School. This 1909 picture showed that it looked more like a church than a school.
This second edition of the school had two classrooms with the teachers living upstairs and there was a old wood stove to heat the school. Elder Phyllis McKay said that when she was in school they did not have indoor plumbing and she used to escort younger girls to the outdoor facilities.
Trailers were used before the intermediate wing was built.
This brown building had classes from grades 1 to 7. The principal of the day and his family lived at the back of the school. When students completed Grade 7 they were sent to boarding homes in Ocean Falls, Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Kitimat and some students went as far away as Edmonton. If parents could not afford the $600.00 for a boarding home, their child was sent to Residential School.
The Bella Bella Community School as it exists today has undergone extensive renovations to link two buildings together with the addition of the third wing.
The Bella Bella Community School currently enrols approximately 200 students from K4 to grade 12. The curriculum follows the BC School Curricula offering small classes with a wide range of course offering taken in class or by distance education. The class of 2013 may have been the largest graduating class. Nineteen students completed grade 12 and several of those students are enrolled in post-secondary school on Vancouver Island. This represents the vision that had its origins with a small group of dedicated Heiltsuk who create this opportunity for the children of the community.