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Ka Ni Kanichihk unveils new Indigenous-designed building expansion in Winnipeg

Ka-Ni-Kanichihk new building images announced June 24 2021. Brook Mcllroy

Ka Ni Kanichihk is an Indigenous-led community organization in Winnipeg’s core area and on Thursday it unveiled designs for its soon-to-be-expanded facility.

The community organization provides healing, support services and training opportunities for women, youth, families and young men who want to change their lives.

Creators of the design and plans, Rachelle Lemieux of Verne Reimer Architecture Inc. and Ryan Gorrie of the Indigenous Design Studio, took community members on a virtual tour. It revealed new cultural and training areas and an expanded daycare with 48 spaces, all designed to reflect Indigenous ways of being, connections between indoors and the outside world, and the community’s need for a safe place to gather together.

Ka-Ni-Kanichihk new building images announced June 24 2021. Brook Macllroy
Ka-Ni-Kanichihk new building images announced June 24 2021. Brook Mcllroy
Ka-Ni-Kanichihk new building images announced June 24 2021. Brook Mcllroy

“Certainly, recent residential school discoveries have underscored how much is yet to be done on the path to reconciliation,” said the organization’s executive director Dodie Jordaan in a news release.

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Read more: ‘They made us believe we didn’t have souls’: Survivors of Saskatchewan residential school speak out

“As we navigate these difficult times, we draw strength from our relations and by focusing on the future, including moving forward on Ka Ni Kanichihk’s exciting and much-needed Building Expansion that will allow us to fulfill our community’s vision for continued and new transformational programming for Indigenous people in Winnipeg,” he added.

Click to play video: 'Unmarked First Nations graves found at former Saskatchewan residential school' Unmarked First Nations graves found at former Saskatchewan residential school
Unmarked First Nations graves found at former Saskatchewan residential school – Jun 24, 2021

Construction for the new building is anticipated to start this fall. The expansion will double capacity while tripling the size of the 455 McDermot Ave. home to meet the needs of the city’s rapidly growing Indigenous population.

One of Ka Ni Kanichihk’s founders, Leslie Spillett, said, “Almost from the time we opened our doors to the community in 2001, the space was too small to meet the number of community members who wanted to attend programming.”

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“We knew then our space would have to grow someday,” she recalled.

“Ka Ni Kanichihk has always been about asserting our people’s rights to self-determination and using our own knowledge and practices to repair the damage done by colonial processes and restore Indigenous relationships and community.”

Read more: Estimated 751 unmarked graves found at former Saskatchewan residential school

“With Winnipeg’s Indigenous population growing so quickly, there is an urgent need for additional training programs, more healing opportunities for youth and families, and an accessible, safe community gathering place – all centered around ceremony and Indigenous ways of being.”

‘We’re so excited that after years of envisioning and planning, the expansion of Ka Ni Kanichihk’s existing home is finally moving forward,” Spillett added.

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Reconciliation through education – Jun 24, 2021

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