New mâmawêyatitân centre works to build community in North Central neighbourhood

The smell inside Regina's new mâmawêyatitân centre is fresh and the building's architecture is immaculate, but it’s the people you’ll find inside who make it feel welcoming.

Excitement over opportunities presented by new $42M complex in Regina

Students stand outside the doors of mâmawêyatitân centre, home of the new Scott Collegiate High School.

The smell inside Regina's new mâmawêyatitân centre is fresh and the building's architecture is immaculate, but it's the people you'll find inside who make it feel welcoming.

North Central Regina's mâmawêyatitân centre has been officially open for almost two weeks and students, elders and workers alike are settling into their new space.

"It started with a seed — that there's got to be a better way for us to service a neighbourhood like North Central," said Dana Folkersen, executive director of Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger (REACH).

"This is about organizations working together."

The REACH program is one of the building tenants and has been a staple in the North Central community through its work providing meals and snacks to children.

Last year, with support from its partners, the program provided 450 nutritious meals to about 7,000 children.

In an interview with Sheila Coles, the host of CBC Radio's The Morning Edition, Folkersen said the commons area is her favourite part of the new building.

CBC Radio's Morning Edition was broadcast live from Regina's new mâmawêyatitân centre in Regina Friday morning. (Dan Plaster/CBC News)

Helping kids be the best they can be

It is a sprawling open-concept room with plenty of ceiling-high windows, but Folkerson said it's what happens inside that matters most.

"This beautiful building is definitely something that the community deserves but my excitement has always been what we can do in this building, and how we can support the kids to be the best that they can possibly be — how, as a community, we can support each other and to build success," said Folkerson.

The $42-million complex will house the Scott Collegiate school, a child-care centre, City of Regina recreation services, a community policing centre and a Regina Public Library branch.

Jonah McFadzean from the Regina Public Library said the new library branch was as much a community hub as it was a place to find books.

The new library space will be a venue for tea tastings, bannock bake-offs and video games, among other activities and programs.

"It's somewhere where people who maybe have nowhere else to go will show up and can search through all of our databases, all of our material that we have to offer or sometimes just stop by for a cup of coffee," he said.  

"Everybody is always welcome at the library."  

What's in a name?

The centre's name, mâmawêyatitân (pronounced mama-way-tid-ahn), means "let's be all together." The centre requested the "M" in the name not be capitalized because there is no capitalization in the Cree language.

Doreen Oakes, a band councillor at the Nekaneet First Nation who has worked as a Cree language instructor at the First Nations University in Regina, said the word was intended to make people comfortable in the building.

"It is a combination of spiritual [and] working together. The way I look at it is when good things are happening," said Oakes.

An Indigenous showcase will be held at the new centre from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. CST on Friday.

Acts will include Michelle Thrush and her Kookum Martha Show, Teagan Littlechief and a Charging Bear performance.

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition