The money will be used to consolidate health, education and social service offerings under one roof, providing jobs for up to 300 people.
THUNDER BAY — The $44 million Matawa Training and Wellness Center took a major step toward completion on Thursday, thanks to a significant investment from the federal government.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu and Thunder Bay-Rainy River MPP Marcus Powlowski announced that Ottawa would contribute $13.8 million to the centre, located in the former Dawson Court, owned by the town, on Algoma Street.
When completed in 2024, the center will house Kiikennomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS), the Matawa Health Co-operative and Awashishewiigiihiwaywiin, Matawa’s social services department. It will also employ up to 300 people.
All three entities have outgrown their current spaces and will be expanded into the new facility to meet the growing needs of Matawa residents located throughout Northern Ontario, including Thunder Bay.
Robinson Meshake, chairman of Matawa’s board of directors, said the money, which is part of the federal government’s fund for clean and green infrastructure, will be used to complete the next phases of the project, using environmentally friendly technology. climate to make it as energy efficient as possible. possible.
“Currently, this building needs a lot of renovations. At the back, with KKETS, we need to renovate some space. We need to update some training spaces. Classrooms are needed. We also need to renovate the kitchen area and develop the community gardens,” he said.
The building’s boiler and heating systems also need to be upgraded.
To date, the family teaching kitchen and pantry are complete, with six family transition units, including common areas, expected to be completed in early summer.
By March 21, the individual accommodation units as well as the Awwashishe programming space and play area will be completed. Matawa Health renovations and other shared spaces will be made. By the end of next year, the KKETS space will be ready, and then in May 2024, an extension to Matawa Health on the north side of the building will complete the project.
Hajdu said it is a wise investment and action towards reconciliation, not just words.
“I think Canada has very good intentions when it comes to reconciliation, but our government has made concrete investments like these in communities, transforming laws and co-developing laws and regulations with Indigenous communities to self-determination and ensuring that we support projects like this that are designed by and for indigenous peoples,” said Hajdu.
“It is the actions of reconciliation that will improve our relationship.”
Matawa First Nations purchased the former retirement home in 2020. After closing, it was first purchased by a local developer, with the intention of converting it into student housing.