Officials from the federal and provincial governments were on hand in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on July 30 to officially announce the funding for the new Aboriginal Family Centre building in the Labrador town.
Premier Dwight Ball, who is also the minister of Labrador Affairs, and Labrador Member of Parliament Yvonne Jones announced over $1.5 million in funding from the province and the feds.
The federal government is kicking in more than $1.2 million and the province is adding $405,000 towards demolishing and replacing the building that was shut down in 2018 due to mould issues. The Labrador Friendship Centre will also benefit from a $113,000 tax rebate.
“Our government is proud to support the construction of a new Aboriginal Family Centre for residents in Upper Lake Melville,” Ball said in a press release from the province on July 30. “The programming and services provided to children are vital to their development during the early learning years. The support that parents and caregivers receive for their children is immeasurable.”
Ball said the working relationship with federal, municipal, Indigenous, and community partners made the project happen.
Jones said the federal government is proud to work with partners to deliver this project to the community and the Aboriginal Family Centre will be able to continue serving the Indigenous children of Labrador and local families for years to come.
The centre serves Indigenous children from birth to six years, with the children attending the programs along with their parent or caregiver. The centre offers a Healthy Baby Club, a drop-in program, and a playgroup, just to name of few of its services.
When the building was shut down in 2018, they reopened down the street with a smaller location and reduced services.
Jennifer Hefler-Elson, executive director of the Labrador Friendship Centre, the organization that runs the Aboriginal Family Centre, told SaltWire in an interview in May they were really looking forward to fully reopening and are looking at launching a social enterprise in the centre to help with some of the operational costs.
“The new centre will provide the Indigenous children in Happy Valley-Goose Bay with a space that is culturally appropriate, inviting, safe and state of the art,” Hefler-Elson said in the press release. “Parents and children will enjoy the new space while taking part in our very successful programs.”
Construction is expected to begin next year.