Nova Scotia

Mi'kmaw women 'so excited' as dreamed-of Resilience Centre gets $8M

Three women involved in a project to build a centre dedicated to the healing and support of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQIA+ people and their families are celebrating their dream finally becoming a reality in Nova Scotia.

Millbrook centre will offer mental health help, language immersion, a birthing centre and more

The building design was inspired by a traditional ribbon skirt. (Solterre Design)

Three women involved in a project to build a centre dedicated to the healing and support of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQIA+ people and their families are celebrating their dream finally becoming a reality in Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Native Women's Association will build the Resilience Centre in Millbrook First Nation with about $8 million in joint funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Speaking with CBC's Mainstreet Tuesday, president Bernadette Marshall said she's "so excited" for the women of Nova Scotia.

"Our priority will be healing," Marshall said, adding that the centre will feature mental health counselling, language immersion, a birthing centre and other supports and programming delivered by Indigenous professionals.

"If anybody's hurting [and] they want to talk, there'll always be somebody there to listen to them," she said.

Listen to the interviews here:

Three women involved in a project to build a centre dedicated to the healing and support of Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQIA+ people and their families are celebrating their dream finally becoming a reality.

She said the goal is for every community in Nova Scotia to have "a smaller version" of a resilience centre.

Executive director Karen Pictou said the association has been working since 2019 to secure this funding. "It feels like a whirlwind," she said.

Pictou said a previous approach to conducting a feasibility study for the project drew criticism for being too broad.

"You can't just write this feasibility work of a resilience centre with a broad-stroke pen across the country," she said. "We all have very unique individual needs."

This time, the feasibility study was led by the Nova Scotia-based organization, who spoke with community members to gain insights about their needs, she said, and that study got some funding from the provincial government.

'A group of women had a vision'

Zabrina Whitman is one of the women who is turning the dream into a reality. (Jeff Cooke/Cooked Photography )

Project lead Zabrina Whitman said crews will most likely break ground in the fall and she hopes the centre will be built by the end of next year.

"It's all dependent on the environment we're in right now and the challenges with procuring materials to actually build," Whitman said. 

The majority of the funding — about $6.5 million — will be delivered through the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program, while $232,000 is being provided through Indigenous Services Canada. The government of Nova Scotia is contributing $1.4 million.

Pictou said the association is hopeful they'll receive further operational funds from the federal government.

Marshall said she's had a smile on her face since the funding was announced.

"All these years ... [a] certain group of women had a vision," Marshall said. "And I'm so very lucky to be part of it."

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