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LOWER POST, B.C. – Removal of a building in Lower Post, British Columbia, will be a “turning point” in First Nations communities’ healing process.

On Thursday, B.C Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin announced a partnership with local First Nation communities to demolish the last remaining building from the residential school era and replace it with a multi-purpose cultural centre.

Deputy Chief Harlan Schilling of Daylu Dena Council says a groundbreaking ceremony is in the works for this summer, taking into account the possibility of COVID-19 restrictions.

“This torch has been the one thing that has been passed off from leader to leader, to finally remove this horrible building that’s been in the centre of our community and the centre of our lives for many people,” says Schilling. “The new building, it’s going to be a new start. We’ve been making things work with having to work out of that building for many years, but it’s finally a turning point for our government to make some big changes.”

The Lower Post residential school served as office space until it was permanently closed in June 2020.

“Our hand was forced to have to use something that was such a negative impact on our people. I’m pretty excited to have this building gone and for our people to start healing.”

Minister of Indigenous Services Canada Marc Miller announced more than $11.5 million in federal and provincial funding to demolish the old residential school building and replace it with a community centre.

“This new community building will stand on the site of the former residential school operated by the Roman Catholic Church between 1951 and 1975,” says Miller. “The policies and operations that enabled the abuse suffered at the hands of residential schools are one of the darkest shames in Canadian history.”

Infrastructure Canada will put $10 million into the project, Indigenous Services Canada and the British Columbia government are investing $1.5 million each, and Daylu Dena Council is contributing $538,960. Indigenous Services Canada will provide an additional $1.3 million to demolish the structure and remove hazardous materials from the former residential school.

The facility will reflect the interests, traditions, and culture of the community, providing much-needed recreational, educational, and cultural spaces, as well as the administrative offices of Daylu Dena Council. It will have an indoor gym, industrial kitchen, outdoor recreation areas, and a garden.

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