Canada and Ontario invest in new Indigenous Cultural Centre at Algoma University

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Algoma University Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Canadians everywhere are feeling the impact of COVID-19, on their families, their livelihoods, and their way of life. Together, Canada and Ontario are working to reduce the impact of the pandemic, ensure health and safety, rebuild businesses, and promote job creation, growth and investment.

Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedNor) and Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie; the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities and Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; and Asima Vezina, President and Vice-Chancellor of Algoma University announced joint funding for a new Indigenous Cultural Centre at Algoma University.

“Construction of Mukqua Waakaa’igan cultural centre at Algoma University is an important step in moving forward on our path to reconciliation. Federal funding will help this new centre to serve as a centre of excellence to the community, promote Anishinaabe culture and create a diverse, respectful space for the local urban Indigenous population and surrounding rural First Nations. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, tackles climate change and builds more inclusive communities.” The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

The Government of Canada is investing over $7.1 million in this project through the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada plan. The Government of Ontario is providing more than $5.9 million, while Algoma University is contributing over $4.7 million.

The project includes renovations to the University’s East Wing building to construct Mukqua Waakaa’igan, the Anishinaabemowin name endowed to the new cultural facility. This space will serve as a venue to share and promote the culture of Indigenous peoples in Canada and showcase the work produced by children of Shingwauk residential school survivors. The new facility will provide better access to culturally appropriate spaces for the local urban Indigenous population and surrounding rural First Nations communities. The cultural facility is intended to serve as a Centre of Excellence, promote Anishinaabe culture, and help to advance the Calls to Action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“Algoma University’s Mukqua Waakaa’igan cultural centre will not only serve as a centre of excellence helping to promote Anishinaabe culture, it also will help bridge the gap between the public and Indigenous communities to build a diverse, respectful environment and learn about Truth and Reconciliation and the residential schools’ legacy.”  Terry Sheehan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (FedNor) and Member of Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie.

All orders of government continue to work together for the people of Ontario to make strategic infrastructure investments in communities across the province when needed most.

“Algoma University’s campus is home to Shingwauk Hall, the only building left in Ontario that housed a residential school that you can visit today. The Children of Shingwauk are the survivors of this dark period in Canadian history; they have worked tirelessly to speak the truth of what occurred in Canada’s residential schools. This announcement is so much more than the construction of a large infrastructure project in Sault Ste. Marie. This $18 million project will house the largest set of residential school archives in the country and serve as a destination for people to learn more about our history. The project will form a critical step towards reconciliation. This is an incredibly unique way to preserve and showcase our history; it is a commemoration of Algoma University’s evolution and identity as a University in Canada.”  The Hononourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities and Member of Provincial Parliament for Sault Ste. Marie on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

 

“Today marks a momentous occasion in the history of the Shingwauk site and for Algoma University and the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA). Mukqua Waakaa’igan will become a Centre of Cultural Excellence for the country; a place in Baawaating, where people of all cultures will be welcomed from around the world to share and learn from and with each other as part of the University’s commitment to creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for cross-cultural understanding, teaching, learning and healing. In Anishinaabemowin, Mukqua Waakaa’igan honours the bear as a carrier of medicine, and as such a healer, Waakaa’igan refers to its lodge or den. The name Mukqua Waakaa’igan was given to this place of learning and healing through ceremony and in recognition of this very significant work. With over 50 countries now represented on our Sault Ste. Marie campus, Mukqua Waakaa’igan will be a safe space for important dialogues about the past, the present and the future. Its contribution –  to combat racism and build the capacity of people to live harmoniously, together with Creation and this world.”  Asima Vezina, President and Vice-Chancellor of Algoma University