Nova Scotia

Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Society secures land for new centre

The property is the former Red Cross building at 1940 Gottingen Street. On Tuesday, Halifax regional council voted unanimously to sell the property to the society for $1.

Property located at 1940 Gottingen Street where former Red Cross building now stands

An artistic rendering of what the new friendship centre will look like. It's a four-storey building with outdoor communal space.
A rendering of a new Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre proposed for a downtown Halifax location. (Submitted by the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre)

The Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Society has secured the land for its new centre.

Halifax has sold the former Red Cross building at 1940 Gottingen Street to the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Society for $1. The group plans to demolish the existing building and create a new centre on the site.

Council unanimously voted in favour of the sale on Tuesday. The society's executive director said the move is a "game changer."

"This building is not just bricks and mortar ... it's a living breathing building, it is about language and culture and community, family, elders, knowledge keepers," Pam Glode-Desrochers told regional council.

The friendship centre has moved three times since it started in 1972 and lack of funding was cited for its latest move in January 2022.

The centre has said the new location will allow it to better serve the more than 7,000 Indigenous people living in Halifax.

Coun. Waye Mason said the sale is a statement about Halifax.

An aerial view of 1940 Gottingen Street.
An aerial view of 1940 Gottingen Street. (Halifax)

"Reconciliation is not a singular event, it's not a thing that happens, it's not a checkbox — it's a process, it's a way of thinking, it's how we're going to change how we live and we're not there yet," said Coun. Waye Mason 

"... this is probably one of the most important things we're going to do as a council this term because it's trying to bring ... action on equity and justice in this community."

In October, the federal government gave $28.8 million to help with construction costs of a new Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre. Another $4 million in federal money for the project was announced in May 2022.

Everyone who spoke at the public hearing expressed support for the project.

David Ladouceur, a 30-year resident of Halifax who is originally from Ontario, said the friendship centre has done a lot to help him and his family over the years with job training and education, which led to a shipyard job

"I couldn't have done that without the friendship centre," he said. 

The municipality's project manager for corporate real estate told council on Tuesday tenders for new construction would be out shortly.

A staff report appraised the property at $11.7 million.