How Malakwa Saved Its School

Seven years ago, the small community of Malakwa, located just off the Trans-Canada Highway east of Sicamous in British Columbia’s Columbia-Shuswap region, feared it was about to lose its school. Many feared if the school went, the community would go with it.

The community rallied to the cause. Meetings were held with School District 83. Parents went to work, putting together research that suggested it would actually cost the school district more to close the school then keep it open.

Ultimately, a solution was forged by agreeing to contract with SelfDesign Learning Community. SelfDesign is one of the largest distance/distributed learning schools and personalized learning programs in BC, completely funded by the BC Ministry of Education. The new arrangement ensured the school would be saved, and with it a range of important community services housed in the same building.

Seven years in, the school appears to be thriving. Yet the challenge of ensuring its long-term sustainability remains.




In this candid, informative conversation, Malakwa businesswoman and Columbia Shuswap Regional District Area E director Rhona Martin explains how the community prevented the school’s closure, and discusses its future.