SASKATOON – After a decade of planning, designing and construction, the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) officially unveiled the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre Wednesday. The facility is named after Gordon Oakes, chief of the Nekaneet First Nation from 1958-62 and 1970-92.
The centre was unveiled on the anniversary of Oakes’ death.
Dignitaries filed into the 20,279 square-foot building to the sound of traditional drummers. Leaders and Oakes’ family members spoke of the man’s commitment to promoting treaty relationships in Saskatchewan.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde was among them.
“It’s a very powerful day. To everybody that made this day happen, thank you so, so much,” Bellegarde said.
The $17 million building houses the university’s Aboriginal Students’ Centre. Architect Douglas Cardinal was present to celebrate the centre he designed.
By 2036, one in five people in Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be First Nations people, Métis or Inuit, according to Statistics Canada.
“This is a gathering place for all students, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to share their stories, traditions and learning, and to participate in Canada’s great challenge of reconciliation,” said U of S president Peter Stoicheff.
The U of S has a series of events planned for the remainder of the week. The university’s annual aboriginal achievement week runs from Feb. 8 to 12.
© 2016 Shaw Media