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The Driftpile Cree Nation is located in the north-west central part of Alberta, approximately 74 kilometres west of the town of Slave Lake, and 50 kilometres east of High Prairie. Committed to the self-sufficiency of the community and providing an excellent quality of life for their community members, the Nation consulted our firm with the vision for a new, inclusive and sustainable Community School. This was among the first of our many First Nations' Schools, and was instrumental in shaping our understanding of how to engage Elders, Youth and the community's leadership in the planning and design of the school.

In 2019 we were asked to prepare a Building Condition Assessment, allowing our team to revisit the design decisions and material choices from 25 years earlier, and use these observations  to inform our future work, as well as to inform the on-going maintenance of this still-vibrant school.


The school’s design, with its curvilinear feather shape, was inspired by Elders talking about the eagles that nest on the shores of Lesser Slave Lake, right by the location of the Driftpile First Nation. Starting at the kindergarten, the lowest end of the building, the roof line gradually slopes upwards over the elementary school wing, the entrance and the high school , terminating at the tallest element, the gymnasium. The increasing height of the building represents the growth and development of each child intellectually, spiritually and physically, from their first day of kindergarten through to the end of high school.


  • AAA in Conjunction with Alberta Economic Development, Exemplary Building, 100 Years of Architecture in Alberta (1906 – 2006), Chronicle of Significant Alberta Architecture, 2007 
  • Alberta Association of Architects, Award of Excellence, 1996 

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