Mould closes Aboriginal Family Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

The discovery of mould has caused the Aboriginal Family Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to close its doors and suspend its programming, as staff work to get a grip on the extent of the problem that first came to light at the end of the summer.

"We discovered that there was some mould there, and we had a contractor to come in to look behind the wall, and see there was more mould than we thought there would be," said Jennifer Hefler-Elson, executive director of the Labrador Friendship Centre, which runs the centre.

The centre caters to Indigenous children under six and their caregivers offering programs like a school readiness program and houses the Healthy Baby Club.

Services ground to halt late last month

Those activities ground to a halt after the discovery of mould as a precaution for the health and safety of staff, parents and children.

Jacob Barker/CBC

"We weren't advised to, but we decided that we should, because we didn't know," Hefler-Elson said. "Right now, the program is at a standstill. The building is not open." 

Waiting for test results

An environmental assessment company has been in to take a look at the problem and test different areas, but final results are only expected back by the end of the month.

"As far as I know, it's in different areas in the building, in the older section of the building, but we don't have all of the details of how extensive it is, or what kind it is," she said.

There's a lot of ifs and whens. - Jennifer Hefler-Elson

"We don't believe it's a harmful mould, but we need to know … whatever it is, it will be cleaned or removed. Whatever we have to do will be done."

Helfer-Elson said she has already applied to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which funds the centre, to access emergency funding to offer its programming in a temporary space.

While the gymnasium in the current building is still useable — it's newer, and can be closed off completely from the older portion of the building — just about everything else is up in the air.

"We don't know how long we're going to need to rent for," she said, adding it isn't even certain yet how much money they'll need to offer temporary services.

"There's a lot of ifs and whens."

With files from John Gaudi and Jacob Barker

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