Thunder Bay

Grandview Lodge to become Indigenous education centre and residence

Acting Mayor Linda Rydholm signed a letter of intent on Tuesday, granting Grandview Lodge to Matawa First Nations Management.

Matawa CEO says the centre should be fully operational by 2019

Acting Mayor Linda Rydholm signed a letter of intent on Tuesday, on behalf of Thunder Bay City Council. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

A former nursing home in Thunder Bay, Ont. is getting a new life as an education centre and residence for Indigenous students. 

On behalf of Thunder Bay City Council, Acting Mayor Linda Rydholm signed a letter of intent on Tuesday, granting Grandview Lodge to Matawa First Nations Management. ​

Matawa is a tribal council which provides services for nine First Nations. The organization plans to transform Grandview Lodge into a school that can also house up to 100 students. 

There will also be space for parents and grandparents to stay if they come to Thunder Bay to visit the students, said Matawa CEO David Paul Achneepineskum. 

Rydholm said the letter of intent is a "step forward" in ensuring the safety of First Nations students that come to Thunder Bay to get their high school education. 

The plan for the new learning centre came as welcome news to Danielle Yellowhead.

Yellowhead, who is from Eabametoong First Nation, is a graduate of Matawa Learning Centre. During her time in Thunder Bay as a student, Yellowhead stayed at several boarding homes. She says that she felt like a "stranger" in someone else's home. 

"It was hard. It was lonely," said Yellowhead. 

But she's excited for future students who will be able to live at the new school.

The education centre will provide structure and support for students, and as a result, the students will feel more at home, she said.

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