Site of former residential school gets $9.4 million for upgrades

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A Brantford building that houses the Woodland Cultural Centre and once served as a former residential school will be upgraded with about $9.4 million in funding announced by the Ontario and federal governments.

Funding for Phase 3 of the physical restoration of the Mohawk Institute Residential School building was announced last week.

“With this funding we are that much closer to realizing our dream of opening up the former Mohawk Institute Residential School as an important interpretive heritage site to educate Canada and to uncover the truth,” said Janis Monture, executive director.

The Woodland Cultural Centre raised $378,437 through individual and community donors. Phase 3 funding has been supported by the Government of Canada, through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program in the amount of $7.6 million, and by the province of Ontario in the amount of $1.8 million. Additional support was provided by the City of Brantford and SC Johnson.

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“This investment represents another critical step forward on Canada’s path to reconciliation, which involves preserving and confronting the tragic truths of the residential school system, to ensure this horrific and dark chapter in our history is never forgotten. I commend the Woodland Cultural Centre for this powerful and important project, and all levels of government for standing beside Six Nations as partners as they continue to heal”, said Phil McColeman.

Upcoming work will rehabilitate the Mohawk Institute Residential School site in Six Nations of the Grand River and allow for healing and the preservation of a past that should not be forgotten.

“In partnership with Indigenous peoples, provinces and territories, we continue our work to advance reconciliation and ensure Indigenous communities have the tools needed to succeed and ensure the well-being of their people,” saod Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities

The funding “is critical to the important work being done by Six Nations of the Grand River to build a national resource to support public education and centre for healing for the community,” said Greg Rickford, Ontario’s  minister of Indigenous Affairs.

Once the building is restored, it will house the history and stories of the “Mushhole” school children.

“Having the site designated as a National Heritage Site is significant to this history as well,” said Roberta Hill, Mohawk Institute Residential School Survivor.

“We welcome you to visit and learn with us as we bring the story of the Haudenosaunee people of the Eastern Woodlands to life through innovative exhibitions and programs. The Save the Evidence is a campaign to raise awareness and support for the restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, and to develop the building into an Interpreted Historic Site and Educational Resource.”

The final goal is to create a fully-realized Interpretive Centre that will be the definitive destination for information about the history of Residential Schools in Canada, the experiences of Survivors of the schools, and the impact that the Residential School system has had on communities.

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