APTN National News
The vote by Thunder Bay city council was unanimous – give a vacant building to the Matawa First Nations for a student education and care centre.
Grandview Lodge sat on the market for over a year costing the city thousands of dollars and one city councillor said it’s just a win for everyone.
“It was just a match made in the North,” said Coun. Iain Angus.
David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO of Matawa First Nations – a group of nine First Nations in northern Ontario, said the facility will house education and training programs.
It will also be home for up to 100 Matawa students.
“Besides other programs we’re going to offer a holistic approach, we’ll offer traditional teachings, traditional medicine, traditional activities,” he said. “It’s a part of what they have at home, we’re going to make it that way.”
Danielle Yellowhead is a graduate of the Matawa Learning Centre and wishes a facility like that was there when she was in high school.
“Tthey will be more secure in the building so that they’re not at boarding homes where they’re lonely,” said Yellowhead. “They’ll have counsellors available on-site and there will be cultural teachings available to them which I feel that is not really available right now I guess.”
The deaths of at least nine First Nations youth in the city have taken its toll in the past two decades.
“We have been struggling as a city around the reality that some of the children from the northern reserves have died in our community and that we’ve been searching for ways in which we can reduce the chances of that reoccurring,” said Angus.
Matawa is working to secure $18 million needed to renovate the building and plan to be operating by September 2019.