Kamloops’ Lii Michif Otipemisiwak (LMO) hopes to break ground next summer on a new home — the first of seven facilities Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) hopes to help establish across the province.
MNBC purchased the vacant lot at 800 Victoria St. — next to the Welcome to Downtown Kamloops sign — for $3.8 million in order for LMO to construct below market rate rental housing for Métis families, a 120-space Métis child-care centre and office space for both itself and the Two Rivers Métis Society.
LMO executive director Colleen Lucier, said the agency has hired Métis architect David Fortin to design the six-storey, multi-faceted building.
Lucier said the Ministry of Children and Family Development has contributed about $3 million to construct the child-care centre portion of the project, while LMO is still working out the cost with BC Housing for the 32 apartment units. She said LMO won’t have a final cost with BC Housing until the architect has preliminary designs, which she hopes to see completed by the end of February.
LMO is still seeking funding, however, for the office space portion of the building. Lucier said she is in the process of reaching out to myriad charitable foundations and grant funders to raise additional funds.
A groundbreaking for the project its expected next summer, with completion pegged for the summer of 2024. Once constructed, the building will be the new headquarters for the organization, which will relocate from 707 Tranquille Rd. in North Kamloops.
“We think it’s a great location,” Lucier said, adding she is excited about seeing the building rise in a prominent location in Kamloops.
LMO will lease the new build from MNBC.
Lucier said LMO hopes to create a centre that offers a full complement of holistic support services in a building designed to reflect both the Secwépemc territory and Métis people.
“One’s environment is an important part to one’s healing,” Lucier said.
She said the new facility — with a daycare centre and social services within the same building as Métis families — will decreased barriers, enabling LMO to connect with children at the earliest age and “wrap supports around them” so they may never need facilities such as their 31-unit Kikekyelc facility on Singh Street in Brocklehurst.
That facility is meant for Métis youth in need of a home when aging out of care.
Lucier said the Singh Street property, which also houses elders to support the youth, will eventually be used to support elders alone.
“Because we are able to design and deliver our own child welfare services right now, we feel confident we can transform the system,” Lucier said.
According to MNBC, it wants to help build a Métis centre in Kamloops as the first of seven projects, in part, due to the large Métis population in town, which numbers little less than 3,500.
The Indigenous-based M’akola Development Services has been tapped to help lead project development.
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week