The Aboriginal Family Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is getting a new home — the centre found out last week it has been awarded $1.7 million in funding to demolish and rebuild parts of the old building on Grenfell Street.
Jennifer Hefler-Elson, executive director of the Labrador Friendship Centre, which runs the centre, said it is great news and they’re excited to start the process.
“It feels awesome to know there’s good news in all this mess,” she said. “We’re looking forward to getting this moving and we’re looking forward to serving our community in a safe and healthy environment that will be culturally appropriate.”
The federal government kicked in about $1.2 million through the Investing in Canada program and the province contributed the remainder.
The building was closed in late 2018 when mould was discovered in an older section. The older parts will be torn down, leaving the gymnasium, which was built a few years ago, Hefler-Elson said.
The centre reopened a few months later down the street, but Hefler-Elson said it will be good to get everything up and running in its own space again.
She said they really appreciate the funding, which will cover most of the costs, but they will have to do some fundraising.
“With COVID-19 concerns now, the cost of construction has likely gone up, just like everything else,” she said. “We will be doing fundraising and looking at other funding applications.”
She said they're also looking at launching a social enterprise in the centre to help with some of the operational costs.
Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper said he was also happy to hear the funding had been approved, and it’s been something they’ve been working on since the other building closed in 2018. He said it took a bit of work to find the money, but working with partners, such as the federal government, was key.
“It just makes it so much easier when everyone’s on board and on the same page,” he said. “We’d been working on it for some time and it’s a much-needed service.”
Trimper said the centre offers something unique in the region, and he is glad to see it proceed.
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.
Construction is expected to begin next year.
Evan Careen is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Labrador for SaltWire Network