North Memorial School is Portage la Prairie's only Community designated school. A Community School involves parents who come in and take cooking classes and other courses, such as how to prepare resumes, as well as the regular classrooms for children in elementary school. 

Principal Val Smith notes the government funds certain schools throughout the province to be a Community School.

"They fund us to do special things," continues Smith. "Outreach will bring in resume-writing workshops. We do cooking classes. We do 'make and takes'. Outreach will survey the parents and we invite them to the school. So, we do lots of programming that other schools throughout Portage la Prairie won't do. We're about helping people with whatever they need. It's part of reconciliation efforts. We want to help and we're here to guide you, and you tell us what you need. Nobody wants to ride a pony if they don't like ponies. What is it you need, we will help you get there."

She notes this kind of relationship and community is for anyone. 

"We work with Dawn Wood (Acting Assistant Directorate of Indigenous Inclusion Directorate for Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning)," says Smith. "Dawn Wood used to be a former employee at North Memorial School, so it's kind of wonderful. She knows how things operate at our school level with our parents and it's a really, really wonderful partnership."

Smith notes they recently installed a table with seats outside the main entrance to the school. Parents can get involved with art, have a picnic, enjoy watching their kids, and have somewhere to sit.

"We started with our little concrete bench and then progressed to tables, and I think the parents I was talking to this morning really loved these tables and benches," adds Smith. "I think I'll try and have a couple more, maybe for June of this coming year, so they can enjoy it, too. North Memorial School's at Community School, so it's kids and parents first."

She says they also made a medicine wheel focusing on things spiritual as well as physical.

"This is an Arts Smarts project," says Smith. "One year, we focused on lots of Indigenous teachings at our school, which is very important. But these teachings are for everyone because our medicine wheel is focusing on the emotional part of a person, the mental part of a person, spiritual and physical, and the well-being in all those parts. We want everyone to feel whole and together. These are not just for the Indigenous students. This is for all of us. This is a life skill -- to make your medicine wheel whole. This was a project from before the COVID-19 pandemic." 

Smith says children as young as kindergarten-age helped out to glue all the pieces together as with a stained glass effect.