First plans released for Halifax's new Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre
It's both a new building and the beginning of what the indigenous people believe will be a new relationship with the community based on reconciliation.
The first images of Halifax’s new Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre were revealed Thursday at a ceremony on the Gottingen St. site that will be home to the new building.
The land was blessed by a Mi’kmaw elder at the beginning of the launch event that was attended by community members and dignitaries. The presentations included lots of talk about healing historic wounds.
"As we build a new Halifax built on respect, and understanding of each other," says Mayor Mike Savage.
"This is a true reconciliation project if I ever did see one, it really is bringing people together," says Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre.
The idea of Halifax City Council selling this surplus land to the Centre first came up last year. Work on the project has been happening at the same time as the city has been dealing with the controversy over the Edward Cornwallis statue.
Mayor Mike Savage says this is part of efforts to move forward.
"This project really has the potential to really transform, not only the physical skyline of the city, but also the way that we have a relationship with our First Nations people," says Savage.
The new centre will be just over 6500 square metres, or 70,000 square feet, located at the far end of Gottingen St., just down the street from the current home of the Native Friendship Centre which was built in the 1980's and is in need of repair.
The new centre will be vastly different from its current one. Services will focus on education, health and employment.
There's no price tag on it yet. The money will come from public and private sources.
"It's part of the healing process. There's a lot of work to be done, and the leadership of both indigenous and non-indigenous need to work together," says Chief Deborah Robinson of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.
The plan is to have the final details all worked out in time for construction to start next summer.
The hope is to have an official opening by late 2019.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Heidi Petracek.