Sheshegwaning First Nation has two major projects in the works

This photo shows what the new expanded Sheshegwaning First Nation administration/complex centre will look like when it is constructed. Photo provided.

SHESHEGWANING – The new year is bringing major renewal to the community of Sheshegwaning First Nation with two capital projects in the works.

Since 2012, expansion of the Sheshegwaning First Nation administration/complex centre building was deliberated and now that addition is about to become a reality. The second project is the construction of a new school.

“Part of the work has started,” Sheshegwaning Chief Dean Roy told the Recorder on Tuesday. “We have completed the feasibility study on the office/community complex centre and the school. The next stage for both will be to design and build. We’re not sure this will take place in 2020, it may be 2021 for this.” 

As outlined by this council, the expansion and reorganization of the administration and community centre will provide additional spatial resources to properly re-organize the existing administrative components, to contribute more conducive physical conditions for the social community to prosper, expand and thrive to provide physical conditions that empower the next generation of community leaders.

As stated, the existing office/community complex structure was built in 1988 and is used for administration offices and multi-purpose operations. It is 5,700 square feet in size and is problematically outdated and contains insufficient space for the re-organization and expansion for present day demands. The building systems are beyond their statistical lifespan, specified prior to the 1991 revision of Ontario’s building code, and energy performance is poor.

Project manager Peter Rankis sat down with the Manitoulin West Recorder and spoke of the status of this capital project and the need for comprehensive revitalization that is necessary for the community to move into the future with vigour and confidence.

He explained that the new facility has been renamed the Leadership Centre to respect the role of the facility in the development of Sheshegwaning future community leadership. There will be approximately 13,000 square feet of new space and this project will consolidate space accommodation across many sectors of community activity with provision for administration and enterprise offices, a healing lodge, cultural enterprise amenities, recreational program requirements, youth support, community social amenities, food service enterprise and banquet facility and site infrastructure. The existing band office will house the expanded council chambers, administrative divisions and the offices for community enterprise development.

The main public entrance to the new Leadership Centre will open to an outstanding area. This will be a central atrium that forms a hub connecting the main building components. This area will serve as the primary gathering space for the community’s social functions, such as weddings, feast days and funerals. It will also house display areas for the exhibition gallery and an interpretive centre. A traditional fire arbour will be integrated into the room.

The next area, to the west of the atrium, will be sized to accommodate a basketball court and will serve as a primary gymnasium. This area is a dividable multi-purpose area and will serve as a foremost community resource to accommodate presentations, performance arts, law-making, conferences and celebrations.

Mr. Rankis went on to speak of the cultural heritage initiative that will serve to organize and consolidate the history of the community and create a doorway through which this can be preserved and shared. In conjunction with the exhibit and interpretive spaces, a new 1,000-square-foot cultural resource centre is dedicated to co-ordinate cultural initiatives and expand Sheshegwaning’s resources as a multi-faceted tourist destination.

Space to accommodate a food services enterprise is allocated along the main street side of the building to provide a catering kitchen and cafeteria/banquet facility and working lounge. This will address food provision to various community events requirements and the needs of Western Manitoulin businesses and residents. The community will contract with an independent provider to operate the facility.

Mr. Rankis also spoke of the operation of the Sheshegwaning First Nation limestone quarry named Odawa Stone Company. The new facility is seen to be an opportunity to further promote the economic development of the enterprise. Local stone materials, promoting local enterprise employment, is incorporated into the facing and finishing of the Leadership Centre where appropriate. It is planned that both the Odawa Stone Company and the existing fish farm operation will integrate their offices within the new facility.

Sheshegwaning First Nation is situated on the north shore of Manitoulin about 117 kilometres from Little Current and the members are of the Odawa Nation of Anishinabek. Dean Roy is the band’s chief while Nicole Bush, Albert Cada, Alana Endanawas and Marie McLeod serve as councillors.