Regina's RCMP Heritage Centre receives $4.5M to become national museum

This will make it the westernmost national museum in Canada.

This will make it the westernmost national museum in Canada

The RCMP Heritage Centre will now get the funding needed to make it a national museum. (Julie Toppings)

Regina's RCMP Heritage Centre has received funding from the federal government to become a national museum. 

The funding was a promise in the 2019 election and part of the federal government's latest budget on April 19, but some details are emerging now. 

"This is a big day," RCMP Heritage Museum board chair Steve McLellan said. "We have been advocating for a very long time to have the RCMP heritage centre to become a national museum, which with it has different standards and opportunities."

The centre is set to get $4.5 million over a few years, McLellan said. How that money comes to the centre still needs to be worked out as well, he said. McLellan and the board have been advocating since the centre opened in 2007 for it to be designated a national museum. 

"It would have some sustaining budget from the federal government. We would have a new governance structure," he said. "We're now able to more fully portray the story of the RCMP and the history of Canada and all of the stories that are engaged in that tale." 

Once the upgrade is complete, it will be the westernmost national museum in the country. McLellan hopes it brings more tourists to the city and the centre.

"We couldn't be happier to bring this opportunity and this level of attraction."

We're going to be able to tell the story more fully than we ever have.- Steve McLellan, board chair 

The funds are the first step in the ratification of national museum status. The designation won't officially kick until after consultations between the federal government and the centre, he said. For now, there will be consistent funding for the centre.

"Now we're going to be able to get marketing budgets. We're going to get these communications and programming budgets, and we're going to be able to tell the story more fully than we ever have," McLellan said. 

For example, he said they can now engage with Indigenous communities to tell the story of the RCMP from their perspective as well. McLellan said they haven't been able to do that as fully as they would have liked in the past. 

An officer takes position during the change of command ceremony on September 6, 2018 for new commissioner Brenda Lucki at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

He said he hopes the new programming could start as soon as this summer and he welcomes people to share their perspectives with the centre.

"Talking to people is something that we're going to do more of, and we've certainly done a lot. There's more to be done."