After more than 15 years of searching, the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre could soon be moving to a new home.
At Wednesday’s regional council meeting, District 7 Coun. Waye Mason put forward a motion that would have staff look into exploring options for the old Red Cross building on Gottingen Street, and asked that the Friendship Centre be included in that process.
“We talk about reconciliation, and there’s always lots of talk about it, but this is an actual action, this is something that’s tangible and real for us,” said executive director Pam Glode-Desrochers.
“I think this is the start of a great partnership.”
Glode-Descrochers said while this is just the first step of many, if all goes right, they hope to turn 1940 Gottingen St. into something the entire city can be proud of.
“It’s a good fit for us, and I don’t think we could get a better, iconic spot than where it is. That particular site rests next to Citadel Hill and I think if you’re talking about reconciliation, that’s the perfect place for it.”
Mason, along with District 8 Coun. Lindell Smith, have been champions for this project since the idea came up in January.
“The federal government has expressed interest, very preliminary interest, in helping to fund a friendship centre similar to the ones you’re seeing in western Canada and because of that, suddenly options are on the table in terms of development of a larger site,” Mason said.
“The most obvious site, given the program they want to deliver, would be the Red Cross site.”
Glode-Desroches said they’re in the middle of doing up a business plan with an outside consulting firm, however, they already have big dreams for the potential new site.
“We want this centre to be everybody’s centre, not just for our community but for HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality), the province. We want everybody to buy into this,” she said, adding she’d like to see affordable housing, green spaces, and an area designated for powwows incorporated into the plan.
The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre has been located on Gottingen Street since 1984.