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Heritage Fund aids Northwest Indigenous, community, small business projects

Wauzhushk Onigum Nation is getting $1.5 million for a new 9,600-square-foot education facility.
Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation Chief Chris Skead. (Photo by Chris Skead)

KENORA – A nearly $2-million Northern Ontario Heritage Fund announcement was music to Chief Chris Skead’s ears.

“It’s a great announcement, for sure,” the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation chief said Tuesday. “And it’s definitely going to go a long way in our community.”

Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora–Rainy River, announced Monday that the Anishinaabe nation south of Kenora will receive $1.5 million in Heritage Fund money to build a new 9,600-square-foot education facility.

The facility will deliver land-based learning to Wauzhushk Onigum (Rat Portage) members, Skead said.

Rickford also announced funding for three other projects in Wauzhushk Onigum: a new radio station, an accessible washroom and changing facility at the community’s Roundhouse, and cleanup and remediation of the Devil’s Gap site for future economic development.

“Wauzhushk Onigum Nation is committed to social and economic growth to ensure a positive future for our community members,” Skead said.

“We have made significant investments in programming and infrastructure to support healing, wellness, community connection and economic prosperity.

“The funding of these projects in Wauzhushk Onigum Nation moves us towards achieving economic reconciliation and ‘mino-bimaadiziwin’ – living the good life – for our community members.”

The Wauzhushk Onigum funding was among more than $7.4 million in Northern Ontario Heritage Fund allocations that Rickford, the province’s northern development minister, announced Monday in Kenora.

The biggest piece was $2 million going to the Ojibways of Onigaming Nation toward building a two-level 23,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility for the community southeast of Kenora.

That structure’s many features are to include economic development offices, child care space, a walking track, a conference centre and a small museum.

Onigaming Chief Jeffrey Copenace said the project’s total cost is about $12 million and Monday’s announcement brings his First Nation to about $2.5 million away from full funding.

“We’re really grateful for the announcement,” he said.

The building “has been called for and supported” by past Onigaming chiefs for many years, said Copenace.

The structure has been designed and a site has been selected, he said.

Also getting Heritage Fund support:

  • The City of Kenora, which is receiving $800,000 to expand the current boat launch and parking lot located at the Moncrief Construction Sports Centre.
  • Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First Nation, to make safety upgrades to their powwow grounds, renovate infrastructure at Shoal Lake Lodge resort, and help fund a powwow celebration.
  • Lake of the Woods Timber Corp., to establish a sawmill by making site improvements, purchasing equipment, marketing and investing in technology.
  • Kenora Veterinary, for expansion of services with new equipment and a refurbished operating facility.
  • The Minaki Foundation, to make improvements to the Minaki community dock.
  • Naotkamegwanning First Nation, to repair and restore their Roundhouse and renovate their powwow grounds.
  • TLC Construction Limited, for the purchase of equipment.
  • Grand Council Treaty #3, to renovate and enhance the traditional sweat lodge of Gamikaan Bimaadiziwin, a land-based healing camp.
  • Lake of the Woods Aviation, to expand operations with new equipment.
  • Ingolf Campers Association, for replacement of flooring in its community hall.

The projects announced Monday collectively “demonstrate the tangible difference our investments are making right in the community,” Rickford said.

- NWOnewswatch