The Yorkton Regional High School announced on Thursday a new space to help increase graduation rates among Indigenous students.

The school set up the Indigenous Student Centre to provide extra educational resources and support.

About 150 Indigenous students attended the high school in 2018 with 45 per cent graduating.

“We kind of tackled it a bit differently,” said Principal Mike Haczkewicz. “Instead of getting kids to graduate initially, what we need to do is get kids to be in the building and be comfortable here and keep learning here.”

Amy Esquash is a Grade 12 student and mother of two who will be graduating in a few months with help from the centre.

“They give this extra push that we all need,” she said.

Indigenous student achievement coach Barbara Pelletier said the program was needed in the school.

“I think a lot of Indigenous students that come to this school historically felt not necessarily a sense of belonging because the main culture of the school is not Indigenous,” she said.

Inside the centre, there are paintings and words of encouragement on the walls. The room gives students the freedom to connect with their culture, language and spirituality.

Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme attended the grand opening of the new space and was grateful for what the high school has created.

“To see a room like this gives me a good feeling that more students are going to come out of Yorkton Regional High School,” Delorme said.