Thunder Bay

Ontario Native Women's Association to make Thunder Bay headquarters more accessible

The Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) is making its Thunder Bay headquarters more accessible thanks to a provincial grant.

Provincial government funding of $678,00 will help association cover cost of installing new elevator

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, president of the Ontario Native Women's Association, said the new elevator currently being installed in the agency's Thunder Bay headquarters should be running by the end of March. (CBC News)

The Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) is making its Thunder Bay headquarters more accessible thanks to a provincial grant.

On Wednesday, Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith announced about $678,000 in funding for ONWA, which the agency is using to install a new elevator at its Ray Boulevard building.

"This is something that ONWA has been working at for 10 years," Smith said during a visit to the association's headquarters. "We're really, really pleased to be able to be here today to announce the funding has been approved."

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, ONWA president,  said the elevator, which is under construction, will help ensure the association can meet the needs of its clients.

"This is really going to be huge for us," she said. "We have had challenges when your building is not accessible for somebody with physical challenges, accessibility issues, particularly elders."

"There's children that are in wheelchairs because of birth challenges," Lavell-Harvard said. "Especially with moms with strollers, people don't think about how that can become a huge barrier."

The elevator is expected to be in operation by the end of March.

The funding for ONWA comes as part of a larger funding announcement the province made Wednesday.

Smith said a total of $1.6 million is being provided to various community agencies across northern Ontario, which the agencies will use to upgrade or repair their buildings.

"Other community organizations in developmental services and women's shelters, violence against women transitional housing, those types of projects will share in that funding," he said. "It's important that they have the facilities that are safe for those individuals when they come to get the service there."