BY BILL PHILLIPS
After several years of discussions and about a year of construction, the new Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park Pavilion in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park was officially opened this morning.
About 250 people gathered on the grass, still damp from last night’s storm, on the longest day of the year – the summer solstice and National Indigenous Peoples’ Day – take in the festivities.
“We’ve had a long relationship and are building a good relationship with the city and the regional district,” said Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Frederick. “We started talking about this building many years ago … We endured some pain, we had some remains dug here, we’ve taken care of that. We’ve taken care to protect the rest in our cemetery.”
The remains of 12 people were dug up during construction of the pavilion. The remains were then reburied in the Lheidli T’enneh cemetery in the park.
“We also wanted to honour our youth and our elders,” said Frederick, pointing to photographs that adorn parts of the pavilion of Lheidli T’enneh youth and elders. “And we also wanted to honour the area we’re on.”
The pavilion cost more than $700,000 with Ottawa contributing up to $377,000 through its Canada 150 Community Infrastructure program and the city matched the federal funds. The province, regional district, Northern Development Initiative Trust also contributed.
The project was being undertaken in partnership with the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and is a part of the city’s commitment to reconciliation.
“The important piece of this entire project and what we’ve done here in the park is that it’s been a partnership,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “It’s been a partnership with the Lheidli T’enneh from Day 1 and we continue to strive to strengthen that partnership. I have no doubt that partnership will become stronger as years go on.”
The pavilion was designed by Chris Bjorn and Viking Construction built the facility.