Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) was the site of a trio of sod turning-ceremonies Aug. 21 to commemorate the roughly $82 million worth of new infrastructure that is being built in the community over the next couple years.
These ongoing construction projects include a new health centre, a Grade 7-12 school and a water treatment plant.
NCN invited several guests to take part in this celebration, including Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook, Thompson Progressive Conservative candidate Kelly Bindle, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee and several representatives from Indigenous Services Canada, who provided the funding for all three projects.
NCN Chief Marcel Moody told Nickel Belt News Aug. 22 that construction started on the new water treatment plant about a month ago. Their existing facility is over capacity and too expensive to keep running.
“Over the last couple years we spent about $4 million of our own money maintaining this facility,” he said. “We just can’t afford to maintain it and obviously when it’s not running properly there’s health issues, there’s safety issues ... so it affects the whole community.”
Moody said they are hoping to complete this new water treatment plant by August 2020.
NCN is building its new Grade 7-12 school for largely the same reason, since their current high school, Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate, is falling apart and wasn’t designed for long-term use in the first place.
“We want to create an environment for kids to learn and be excited about to going to school and it’s just not there,” said Moody. “It’s not adequate, it’s not suitable, it’s not functional for a high school. We’re having a lot of issues with it. We have to do a lot of work in terms of the foundation because it’s sunk in one part.”
Moody anticipates that construction of this new high school will take around two years to complete and will nicely complement the community’s existing Otetiskiwin Kiskinwamahtowekamik elementary school.
The NCN chief also said they’ve finalized the design for the new health centre, but are delaying construction on that project until next year.
All three of these new facilities will be built within NCN’s new subdivision, which comprises a couple of square kilometres of undeveloped land on the north side of the community.
“We’re just excited that these plans have finally come to fruition and hopefully it’ll promote healthier communities and a better environment for our students to go back to school,” said Moody. “We also want quality drinking water for our people. Right now, we don’t have that. People are suspicious of the quality of water.”