Indigenous centre taking shape on Charlottetown waterfront
Construction underway for building years in the making
P.E.I.'s Mi'kmaq community will soon have a new place to gather, access services, and showcase culture.
Work is well underway on the new Urban Indigenous Centre on the Charlottetown waterfront. The three-story building will be home to Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. offices, the new Mi'kmaq rights-based organization called L'Nuey, as well as space on the ground floor for front-line services, artisans, and possibly more.
"We always wanted to have our own space. So this idea is not a new idea, it's something that's been in the works with the leadership for a number of years," said Darlene Bernard, Chief of Lennox Island First Nation.
Opening in 2020
Bernard recalls discussions around creating a new space in Charlottetown when she was previously chief, from 2001 to 2013. She was elected to the position again earlier this year.
"When I was chief earlier, you know we talked about a building and a facility within the Charlottetown area, so that we can better serve our off-reserve population."
The Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.'s plan to build on the waterfront site was approved by city council in 2016, and since then the provincial and federal governments have announced funding for the project.
Bernard said the total cost, from design to completion, will be about $7 million.
Last year, officials said they hoped to have the project complete by November 2019. However after delays with construction, Bernard now said the anticipated completion date will be late summer, or early fall 2020.
'Gateway for the tourists'
Bernard is glad to see the building going up, and hopes the prominent location on the waterfront will be both convenient for Mi'kmaq people who live in Charlottetown, and will also attract non-Indigenous people to visit the centre.
"We want to be one of the first contacts, you know like the gateway for the tourists that come on the cruise boats," Bernard said.
She hopes people from all backgrounds will come into the building to see the artwork that will be showcased, and learn more about Mi'kmaq history and culture.
"We want to be proud of ourselves, but we want the general population of P.E.I. to be proud too."