Winnipeg Indigenous-led organization one step closer to major expansion thanks to generous gift

·3 min read

An organization that has worked for more than two decades to support Winnipeg’s Indigenous community is now one step closer to embarking on a major expansion project, thanks to a large financial gift from Manitoba’s Credit Unions.

Ka Ni Kanichihk, an Indigenous-led organization established in 2001 to serve the city’s urban Indigenous community, announced during a Tuesday media event they have receive $100,000 from Manitoba’s 21 Credit Unions, that will now be put towards a planned $8-million Campus Expansion project at their existing headquarters at 455 McDermot Ave.

The organization, which provides culturally-based programming and supports for Indigenous community members, is planning a large expansion project that would see them expand their current headquarters to 22,000 total square feet, and the organization says thanks to the funding announced Tuesday, they now hope to have construction underway on the project sometime later this summer.

While speaking at Tuesday’s media event, Assiniboine Credit Union CEO Kevin Sitka called the contribution an “act of reconciliation,” and said Manitoba’s Credit Unions are committed to continuing to work with and to support Indigenous people and communities.

“We respect the Treaties, and the land and the water that sustain us,” Sitka said. “It is our responsibility to understand the meaning of the Treaties, to learn the truth about our shared history, and to dedicate ourselves to reconciliation.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and its calls to actions had a very clear message to Canada’s business community to educate employees on the legacy and the impact of colonization of Indigenous peoples, and while we have taken constructive first steps, we recognize and acknowledge that we still need to do much more.

“This collective investment is an action we are taking together as one more step towards reconciliation.”

According to Ka Ni Kanichihk, their current facility serves about 1,500 people every year, which they said is the maximum they can accommodate, but the organization said that demand far exceeds their current program and facility capacity, and that approximately 1,500 additional people every year inquire about participating in their programming, or utilizing their services.

Ka Ni Kanichihk’s expansion will create an expanded daycare increasing from 16 to 48 spaces, a dedicated cultural gathering space, wellness and healing spaces with access to Elders, traditional medicines, and modern health care, a community kitchen, and a resource hub for youth.

On Tuesday, Sydney Levasseur-Puhach, who is a co-chair on the Ka Ni Kanichihk’s board of directors, said support is needed from all levels of businesses and organizations in Manitoba to help Indigenous people to succeed, and that is why they are appreciative of the financial gift they will be receiving from Manitoba’s Credit Unions.

“We need to rely on each other, and we need to ask when we need help.” Levasseur-Puhach said. “And I think the contribution from the Credit Unions that we are acknowledging today is so meaningful because now you have become a part of this support system in which we serve this community with a network of care.

“This space we are expanding into really will transform and save lives.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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