AUNDECK OMNI KANING— Aundeck Omni Kaning ( AOK ) First Nation chief, council, band members and dignitaries gathered this past Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of the community’s new Multi-Use Recreation and Cultural Complex.
“The 17,500 square foot facility features a fitness centre, large gym with fold out platform and bleachers, conference room, large kitchen, change rooms and two commercial spaces,” explained AOK EDO Kathy Bebamash. “We are very pleased with the new facility and the funders who helped make this $4 million project possible: Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor), the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), Northern Ontario Heritage Foundation (NOHF), Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. We held a soft opening in mid-May, but are pleased to officially open the complex today. So far we have had a great response from the community and visitors to the new facility.”
The ceremonies started with an opening prayer from Roberta Oshkabewisens, followed by introductions by master of ceremonies AOK band Councillor Marvin Assinewai.
“I am pleased to be here today celebrating the grand opening of our new complex,” said AOK Chief Patsy Corbiere. “On behalf of the leadership, staff and construction team, we are very thankful that you could all be here. This facility signifies a positive step for our leadership, promoting a healthy lifestyle in our community and a hub for cultural activities. Fifty percent of our population is under the age of 35, which is one of the reasons why this facility is so important. We are very proud of the management team that looked after this project—it was a strong team. I would also like to recognize that Grand Council Chief Pat Madahbee (of the Anishinabek Nation) had the original vision to build this multi-use centre.”
AANDC was formally thanked for their contribution to the facility and a gift was presented to AANDC Economic Development Program Advisor Gilles Brunet.
“I am very impressed with this complex,” said Mr. Brunet. “I am glad that the youth will have a place like this. Everyone has done an excellent job.”
Ms. Bebamash also thanked the NOHFC and presented a gift to that organization to Northern Development Officer Amanda Gunner.
Ms. Bebamash also extended gratitude from the community to the OTF, MAA and FedNor.
Mike Ladyk of Castellan James and Partners and Keith Welsh of Laari Construction were formally thanked as well.
Operational Sergeant Brad Mack with the UCCM Anishnaabe Police congratulated the community on the new complex and presented a gift (a large dreamcatcher) to Ms. Bebamash to hang in the facility. He also presented a print from the 10 Mile Point Art Gallery, who donated the piece for the facility.
Grand Council Chief Pat Madahbee acknowledged the hard work of chief, council and staff that went into acquiring the funding to create the facility and the generosity of the funders.
The opening ceremonies concluded with an eagle song from Ms. Oshkabewisens, who noted that “the eagle is a bird that takes care of our nation.”
Following a ribbon cutting, those in attendance enjoyed refreshments and tours of the facility.