A neighbour’s donation of a Morley Kakepetum painting was one of the highlights at the Matawa Education and Care Centre Neighbourhood Barbeque on Sept. 15 in Thunder Bay.
“He (Stan Dromisky) came forward and said he is welcoming of our students and our plans,” says Sharon Nate, education manager for Matawa First Nations Management. “That was good of him to say that and come out here and support us.”
Dromisky, who served as Thunder Bay-Atikokan MP from 1993-2004, looks forward to seeing the former Grandview Lodge long-term care facility being used for education purposes.
“I’m a former educator and I taught educators,” says Dromisky, who lives across the street from the Matawa Education and Care Centre. “So you have no idea how pleased I am that this building is going to be contributing to First Nations people (and) the entire community in a very positive manner.”
Peggy Dromisky, Stan’s partner, says the building is being put to a “very good use.”
“I’m glad that the kids who are coming from so far away have got something where they can all be together,” Peggy says. “I think that’s marvellous.”
Nate says there was a good turnout for the Matawa Education and Care Centre Neighbourhood Barbeque.
“There was a lot of people here — there’s neighbours here that are coming to see what is going on, what we are doing and just getting to know us and all of the students as well,” Nate says. “You can see them interacting with one another, so that’s a good turnout.”
Nate says Matawa is currently looking at renovation plans for the building.
“Our planning involves changing the whole outlook of the building, making it more ours, more Matawa,” Nate says. “We’re having a lot of student input into our planning and designs.”
Marten Falls student Carson Baxter looks forward to using the Matawa Education and Care Centre in the future. Plans call for the high school facility to be opened in 2018 and the student accommodations to be ready by September 2019.
“I can’t wait to go and tour inside (the building),” Baxter says. “I’m really looking forward to my education and getting it done.”
Baxter also enjoyed the Matawa Education and Care Centre Neighbourhood Barbeque, where he helped out with the drumming.
“It was awesome,” Baxter says. “I sang a couple of verses, but I didn’t sing the whole song.”
Marten Falls’ Denise Baxter, principal of Lakehead Adult and Continuing Education in Thunder Bay, is excited about the possibilities for Matawa students at the Matawa Education and Care Centre.
“I see a lot of possibilities of having grounds where they can do cultural activities right on the grounds, perhaps think about gardening or building a sweat lodge,” Denise says. “It’s nice to see Matawa being able to realize this dream and this goal they’ve been working many years on.”
Denise adds that the Roots to Harvest garden site, where youth learn about planting, growing and harvesting vegetables throughout the summer months, is located just a couple of blocks from the Matawa Education and Care Centre site.
“So I see some potential opportunities there as well to extend that, which would be amazing,” Denise says.
Aroland Councillor Joe Baxter, a board of director for Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services, raised some suggestions about the development of shops and other uses for the building.
“Can this (building) be expanded to have an automotive shop, a woodworking shop, all this kind of stuff for hands-on activities,” Joe says. “And why can’t we house a daycare centre in here for the students that come here as parents.”