|Old Sun History|
NA TO SA PI — “Old Sun”
The name of Old Sun and the structure, which currently houses the community college, have long been associated with formal education on the Blackfoot Reserve.
The opportunity for formal schooling has been available on the Reserve since the late 1800’s. In 1883 Reverend John W. Tim’s of the Church of England was sent to establish a mission among the Blackfoot Indians. His task was accomplished when Chief Old Sun allowed him to build a cabin, which became the first school and, at a later date, was named after Chief Old Sun.
The building was successively replaced until 1929 when the present brick school was built to accommodate the growing educational needs of the reserve. The Anglican Church continued to operate the school until the 1950’s when the federal government took over.
The 1960’s signaled a new era in Native Indian education. A move was made to integrated students into the public school system through bussing. As the Old Sun School Became vacant the Blackfoot leaders identified a possible use for the building as an adult learning centre. Their plans became reality when Old Sun Community College was founded in 1971.
The College was operated at first as a campus of Mount Royal College. In 1978 it became an independent institution operated by the Blackfoot Band.
Chief Old Sun’s Blackfoot name was literally ‘Sun Elder’ or ‘Sun Old Man’. In The Blackfoot language it was NA TO SA PI. The first two syllables refer to the sun. The final two syllables of the name mean grey or white hair of an old man. But they also aesthetically imply ‘to see’, as in a gain insight.
It is also important to mention that the building was also utilized as a Residential School that housed Blackfoot children from 1929 until its closure in 1971. The first Residential School Building was established in the late 1800’s.