New Halifax Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre building gets funding

Halifax’s Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre officially got ahold of the funding it will need to construct a new building in service of the city’s fast-growing Indigenous population, the federal government announced last week.

The centre, which opened in 1972, now delivers more than 55 programs to Halifax’s Indigenous population has had to move three times since its opening in order to meet the needs of the Indigenous community in the city. The $28.8 million funding will allow the centre to erect a new building that will adequately house them

“Ensuring that our ever-expanding population has the resources necessary to address the intergenerational and systemic barriers we encounter on a daily basis has necessitated a broad expansion of our operations which has been insufficiently accommodated by our infrastructure to date,” said Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre executive director Pam Glode-Desrochers. "I believe this support will initiate an unparalleled turning point in the progress Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are making toward Reconciliation. The announcement today is an acknowledgement and a clear understanding that when we work together, we can dramatically change the quality of life for Indigenous people."

This funding comes from the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund, and builds on a previous $4 million investment announced earlier this year. The Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre serves about 7,000 clients every year.

The centre’s programs range from early childhood education, training, employment, housing and homelessness, and justice to harm reduction of violence and supports for culture and languages.

Federal Indigenous Services minister Patty Hajdu said the long-time community resource will now be able to have room to move in their new building.

“The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre has been a core resource for Indigenous peoples in Halifax for 50 years. Their vast offerings support Indigenous people with services in early childhood programs, training, employment, housing, justice, harm reduction, and culture and languages. And they have done all this with a building that has become much too small to fit in all that great work,” she said. “The Friendship Centre will be able to build and expand their services in a brand-new facility, meeting the needs of Indigenous peoples in Halifax for the next generation. This is reconciliation in action: ensuring that communities can work for everyone.”

Acadia First Nation Chief Deborah Robinson said the funding and what it means for future generations of Indigenous people is cause for celebration.

“The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship/Wije’winen Centre continues to be a place where our Indigenous sisters and brothers living in urban areas can find access to essential services, hope, understanding, and friendship,” Robinson said. “As the demands for their services grow, the need to expand their operations also becomes more apparent. We celebrate today’s funding announcement with all those who visit and work at this wonderful Centre.”

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase