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Ceremony and Celebration Mark the Ground Breaking on Ontario's first purpose-built Indigenous Hub in Toronto's West Don Lands

CNW Group - Mon Jun 21, 5:45PM CDT

Ceremony and Celebration Mark the Ground Breaking on Ontario's first purpose-built Indigenous Hub in Toronto's West Don Lands

Canada NewsWire

Anishnawbe Health Toronto milestone celebrated with partners Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training, clients, volunteers, donors and Government and Development Partner representatives on National Indigenous Peoples Day

TORONTO , June 21, 2021 /CNW/ - The Indigenous community in Toronto , with its allies and partners, celebrate today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day and the Summer Solstice, the ground-breaking of a new Indigenous Hub in Canada's largest city. The new Hub will help meet critical health care, spiritual, employment, training and family support needs for a community traumatically impacted by colonization, the residential school system and the '60s Scoop'. 

More than 700 virtually attended the celebration that was livestreamed due to pandemic restrictions.  The ceremony at the Hub building site at Front and Cherry Streets featured a pipe ceremony conducted by Cree Traditional Healer Pete Keshane.  Poised to be one of the first mixed-use, purpose-built Indigenous Hubs in the country and the first in the province, the milestone was celebrated with a socially-distanced ground breaking event and featured First Nations drummers Young Creek and four fancy shawl dancers, reflecting the star blanket shawl-inspired design of the new home for Anishnawbe Health Toronto on the Hub.  

The 2.4-acre Indigenous Hub spans an entire city block at Front and Cherry Streets in the West Don Lands.  The Hub will include the new home of Anishnawbe Health Toronto (AHT), the Miziwe Biik Training Institute, a childcare and family centre, the Canary House mixed-use condominium building and restored Canary heritage building by Dream Unlimited Corp. (TSX. DRM) and Kilmer Group, along with a purpose-built rental building, developed by Dream, Dream Impact Trust, Kilmer and Tricon Residential (TSX:TCN.TO).

"Today's ground breaking is a major milestone, years in the making. The site will be a gathering place for the Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and a home to support the reclamation of culture and identity.  In fact, this project will advance on many fronts including the restoration of traditional medicines and green space to this block that has an industrial past; implementing architectural guidelines for Indigenous design developed for this project; and to land ownership and lease agreements with development partners that will guide and support the Hub forward for seven generations and more," says Joe Hester , Executive Director of AHT,  who has directed this project for more than 20 years.  In 2015, as a legacy of the Pan Am/Parapan AM Games, the Province of Ontario transferred the land to Anishnawbe Health Toronto. AHT then partnered with Dream, Dream Impact Trust, Kilmer Group and Tricon Residential to co-develop the site for residential and retail uses.

The ground breaking, hosted by Andre Morriseau, Chair of Anishnawbe Health Foundation, also included remarks from: Marian Jacko , President of AHT; Krystal Abotossaway , President of Miziwe Biik; pre-recorded remarks from Chief R. Stacey Laforme of Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation; Mayor John Tory of the City of Toronto ; Parliamentary Assistant MPP Robin Martin with pre-recorded remarks from Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott ; Ken Tanenbaum , Vice-Chair of Kilmer Group; and Stephen Diamond of Waterfront Toronto. At the end of the ceremony, the partners broke ground with ten unique shovels designed and painted by five Indigenous artists.

The four-storey, 45,000 sq. ft. Anishnawbe Health Toronto Community Health Centre will offer holistic health programs and services that integrate Indigenous and Western approaches. A majority of the construction of the Health Centre will be funded by the Ministry of Health with the rest being funded by community support from donors through Anishnawbe Health Foundation. The construction of the Health Centre will be funded by the Ministry of Health with community support from donors through Anishnawbe Health Foundation.  Over 2,500 donors and volunteers have come together to contribute to the project – individuals, interfaith groups, community organizations, family foundations, labour unions, corporations and of course, members of the Indigenous community.

Neighbouring the health centre is the Miziwe Biik Training Institute, which will serve as the employment and training partner. The new building will offer a hands-on carpentry workshop, tutoring classrooms, a business incubator and other multi-purpose training spaces for programming and gatherings, as well as a childcare and family centre. The Institute will enable Miziwe Biik to double its physical space, helping to support 700 to 1,000 Indigenous people secure new jobs annually.

The City of Toronto has contributed $7.809M towards the creation of a new early learning and childcare centre for 49 children as well as a new Indigenous EarlyON Child and Family Centre, which will be located in the Miziwe Biik Training Institute. These centres will offer programs for children and families that will support and celebrate Indigenous knowledge, history and values.

"The Miziwe Biik Training Institute is an opportunity to realize the full potential of the GTA's Indigenous community and provide the local population with the skills and credentials to attain good paying jobs. The Institute is an investment in the future prosperity of the Indigenous community living in the GTA and will contribute to Canada's economic recovery," says Nancy Martin , Executive Director of Miziwe Biik .

The new home for the Health Centre is scheduled to open by the end of 2022 while the rest of the Indigenous Hub's completion is slated for 2024. To thoughtfully integrate the variety of uses into the site, the development team conducted numerous community engagements and tapped acclaimed architecture firms, BDP Quadrangle in collaboration with Stantec and Indigenous-owned Two Row Architect, to design the masterplan. Two Row Architect also served as the design consultant on the entire project, developing eight Indigenous design guidelines that ensured all aspects of the Hub honoured Indigenous knowledge, history and values, including: materiality, attention to detail through craftsmanship, directionality, movement of the sun, among others.

"It's been an honour for Dream, Kilmer Group and Tricon Residential to partner with Anishnawbe Health Toronto on this significant project and we are grateful to have been entrusted to help carry this vision forward. This milestone is a major achievement showing how open dialogue and collaboration can help achieve common goals. We look forward to seeing the Indigenous Hub become a vibrant, welcoming place for all. This is a place that will meaningfully reflect Indigenous values, history and stories, and supports the future of AHT and the Miziwe Biik Training Institute for generations to come," says Ken Tanenbaum , Vice-Chair of Kilmer Group.


Quote from Chief R. Stacey Laforme , Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation

"This is a time of pain and hurt in this world and a reminder of just how much work there is in front of us. But moments in time and adversity like this can turn a nation onto a good path.  And it is time for that good path.  Seeing collaborations like this Hub, where all walks of life come together to make a dream into a reality, is very much in keeping with our traditional values.  It is an example of a good path, and it gives us hope for the future."

Quote from The Honourable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

"It is an honour to participate in this groundbreaking ceremony on National Indigenous Peoples Day, as Ontarians across the province come together to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of Indigenous Peoples. Our government is committed to supporting and working collaboratively with Indigenous leaders and communities to ensure that Indigenous Peoples receive culturally safe and appropriate care. As part of that commitment, we are investing over $31 million to help build the new Anishnawbe Health Toronto Community Health Centre, which will play a critical role in providing access to high quality multi-disciplinary care that reflects Indigenous cultures and traditions."

Quote from Mayor John Tory , City of Toronto

"Today, the City makes a step forward with our Indigenous partners to ensure future generations of Indigenous children have important resources to live happy and healthy lives."

Quote from Stephen Diamond , Chair of the Board of Directors, Waterfront Toronto

"In reverence to the long-standing roles Indigenous peoples have held as stewards of Toronto shores, Waterfront Toronto strives to include and celebrate Indigenous peoples' history, culture, and continued contributions to the community in development projects on the waterfront. This Indigenous Hub in the Canary District is a first of its kind in Canada , and will serve as a landmark for Indigenous peoples and the neighbourhood as a whole, providing vital health services, along with cultural and community resources. Working with our government partners, Anishnawbe Health Toronto, the many First Nations and Indigenous people of Toronto , and leaders in the development industry, Waterfront Toronto will continue to create new spaces for Indigenous culture and knowledge to contribute to Toronto's future."

Anishnawbe Health Toronto is a fully accredited Community Health Centre in downtown Toronto.  Its mission is to improve the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in spirit, mind, emotion and body, by providing traditional healing within a multi-disciplinary health care model.  Since 1987, Anishnawbe Health Toronto has been the only provider of western medical services and traditional healing services to a rapidly growing, urban Indigenous community.  For more information, visit .

Anishnawbe Health Foundation is a registered charity that supports the work of Anishnawbe Health Toronto in building a strong, healthy urban Indigenous community. Its inaugural campaign has raised nearly $10 million to support a new home for Anishnawbe Health Toronto and programs to foster the reclamation and restoration of traditional healing practices at the new centre.  For more information, visit .

Established in 1991, Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training provides programming for the training and employment needs of Urban Indigenous peoples, helping to create positive educational, social, and economic outcomes for Indigenous people living in the GTA. Miziwe Biik works with employers to secure employment opportunities, delivers federal and provincial programs and promotes Aboriginal entrepreneurship and economic development.

Dream (TSX. DRM) is a leading developer of exceptional office and residential assets in Toronto , owns stabilized income generating assets in both Canada and the U.S., and has an established and successful asset management business, inclusive of $10 billion of assets under management across three Toronto Stock Exchange listed trusts and numerous partnerships. We also develop land and residential assets in Western Canada . Dream has a proven track record for being innovative and for our ability to source, structure and execute on compelling investment opportunities. For more information, please visit our website at .

Dream Impact (TSX:MPCT-UN.TO) is an open-ended trust dedicated to impact investing. Impact investing is the intention of creating measurable positive, social and environmental change in our communities and for our stakeholders, while generating attractive market returns. Dream Impact's underlying portfolio is comprised of exceptional real estate assets reported under two operating segments: development and recurring income, that would not be otherwise available in a public and fully transparent vehicle, managed by an experienced team with a successful track record in these areas. The objectives of the Trust are to create positive and lasting impacts for our stakeholders through our three impact verticals: environmental sustainability and resilience, attainable and affordable housing, and inclusive communities; balance growth and stability of the portfolio, increasing cash flow, unitholders' equity and NAV over time; leverage access to an experienced management team and strong partnerships in order to generate attractive returns for investors; provide investors with a portfolio of high-quality real estate development opportunities, concentrated in core geographic markets; and to provide predictable cash distributions to unitholders on a tax-efficient basis. For more information, please visit: .

Kilmer Group is a multi-generational company that invests in Canadian businesses, real estate, infrastructure, and sports and entertainment. In its development work, Kilmer's focus is on unique public-private partnerships, brownfield redevelopment, mid-rise urban infill projects and transit oriented master-planned communities.

Tricon Residential is an owner and operator of a growing portfolio of over 31,000 single family rental homes and multi-family rental apartments in the United States and Canada with a primary focus on the U.S. Sun Belt. Our commitment to enriching the lives of our residents and local communities underpins Tricon's culture and business philosophy. We strive to continuously improve the resident experience through our technology-enabled operating platform and innovative approach to rental housing. At Tricon Residential, we imagine a world where housing unlocks life's potential. For more information visit .

SOURCE Anishnawbe Health Toronto

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