It was a big day for the Kenora community and Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford.
Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, toured the area yesterday to announce $1.4 million in work through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, all aimed to improve the quality of life in the Kenora community.
"Our government is improving community infrastructure and strengthening cultural ties to promote a high quality of life in Indigenous and northern communities," said Rickford. "This investment supports economic development and provides tailored support that encourages growth and prosperity."
Ontario says Grand Council Treaty #3 will see $495,000 to build an all-season roundhouse lodge that will serve as a healing, training, ceremonial and event space to support the Gamikaan Bimaadiziwin Healing Centre at Bug Lake.
Treaty #3 Ogichidaa, Francis Kavanaugh, says the roundhouse is in the first phase of development and will help those who struggle with finding their way with the justice system, mental health and more - with cultural teachings and alternative healing practices.
“Gamikaan Bimaadiziwin honours and preserves healing processes rooted in our Anishinaabe way of life,” says Kavanaugh. “We are working to bring together all partners through healing and collaboration to provide individuals a renewed chance at Bimaadiziwin – living the good life."
Next, the Kenora Chiefs Advisory is set to receive $476,833 to build a commercial kitchen, dining area, laundry room, bathrooms and showers for a future youth camp, recreational programming and special events held at their Youth and Family Wellness Camp down Strecker Road.
Executive Director Joe Barnes says the additional investments will help take their youth and family programming to the 'next level', and is continuing to thank community partners and the government for the support.
“The progress we have been able to make to date, with the support of our partners and both levels of government has been incredible,” says Barnes. “This property has already made an impact within its first few years of operation, in terms of accessibility to programs and service delivery and now, with the new commercial kitchen, we will be able to take this phase of our project to the next level."
And to build on a previous federal funding announcement, the Kenora Nordic and Biathlon Club will receive $490,000 from Ontario to build three kilometres of permanently-lit trails to allow for safe night skiing.
“With help from the Ontario government, we continue to improve our trail system, which is already known as the best cross-country ski system between Thunder Bay and Canmore,” says Volunteer and Trail Designer, Tim Wehner.
“Adding permanent lighting doubles the lit operating hours from eight hours of sunlight at winter solstice to 16 hours of ski time. This improves safety and enjoyment for our skiers who all ski and train here in northwestern Ontario,” he adds.
In April, Ottawa announced a $500,000 investment into the Kenora Nordic and Biathlon Club to install permanent LED lighting fixtures along its Nordic ski trail system at Mount Evergreen, helping skiers after dark.
Rickford’s tour of the region continues with more announcements scheduled in Dryden on Thursday and further Kenora announcements on Friday.