The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) is taking the first steps toward building a space all its own after the federal government announced that it would be making a $4.9-million investment in the organization.
The bulk of the joint federal funding – $4 million – will be used to contribute to the design and construction of a new facility, while the remaining $910,000 will be set aside for the Centre’s current social programs.
The new facility, first announced in 2017, will occupy 1940 Gottingen St., and be designed to accommodate the more than 7,000 urban Indigenous folks living in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
According to Pamela Glode-Desrochers, executive director of MNFC, the final price of the building will come in anywhere from $35 million to $65 million.
Andy Fillmore, MP for Halifax, was at the centre Thursday to make the announcement. He said he knows the $4-million investment won’t be enough to build the new facility, but that it’s a necessary start.
“The $4 million today is going to inspire and help the city to finalize the land deal,” said Fillmore. “They will now have confidence that this is a real project. And those two things together, along with the incredible community support, the architectural work, we now have enough to leverage further funding.”
Glode-Desrochers said that the rest of the funding is going to be leveraged from the more than 50 social programs MNFC provides, with close collaboration with government.
“I think it’s going to be a real team effort at all levels of government to actually help us finish this project,” said Glode-Desrochers. “You know, it’s truth and reconciliation at its best.”
MNFC recently moved to Brunswick Street, in what used to be a call centre after their previous building fell into disrepair.
“You never knew if it was going to snow inside or rain inside, if you needed your swimsuit or your snowsuit,” said Glode-Desrochers. “The building has expired.”
Their current location also accommodates the exponential growth MNFC has seen in the past 10 years.
“I literally had staff sitting in closets, and then in hallways. And that growth is still going to continue. We know that there’s more and more needs, and we’re doing more.”
But their lease ends in three years. And with construction of the new facility still on the horizon Glode-Desrochers said she doesn’t know what the Centre will do in the meantime.
“It is scary for us. It’s scary for staff and community members who don’t really know what the future will hold for us in three years,” said Glode-Desrochers. “But I have great faith that all those promises that have been made will be carried through.”