By Rick Garrick
Red Rock Indian Band recently celebrated the completion of its $3.2 million Professional Business Complex, which includes space for the band office and local agencies.
“We have already leased space to Dilico (Anishinabek Family Care) and some other agencies,” says Chief Pierre Pelletier. “We funded it all by ourselves — there was no government money put in. It was totally an initiative of the Red Rock Indian Band.”
The Robinson Superior community funded the new office building through a mortgage, thanks to assets built up over the years through investments in a number of office buildings in neighbouring communities such as Thunder Bay and Nipigon. “With our assets, we were able to borrow that money to build the $3.2 million office space,” says Councillor Omer Belisle.
The community held a grand opening ceremony on July 24 for the handicap-accessible, 12,000 sq. ft. two-story office building, which features 15 offices, a reception area, a kitchen and an elevator on the first floor and 18 offices, a double office and a boardroom on the second floor.
“One of the proudest moments of our leadership, chief and council, is a day like this when we can celebrate and people can show what they can do,” says Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare. “This takes a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices and time.”
Hare wants to see more new band offices in the Robinson Superior region in the future. “It says a lot, not only to the leadership but to the community itself,” Hare says. “I’m very proud for the leadership here for as he put it: ‘Just do it.’ This is an awesome place, compared to where they’ve been.”
The community’s old band office was located in an old school building across Highway 11 from the new office building. “I started school in (that building) in 1953 and now I’m just getting out of it in 2015,” says Councillor Edward Wawia. “It served its purpose; it was an old building. It will be so nice to get (our staff) into a nice clean working environment.”
Wawia says the community members are “very proud” that the new office building was built with their own funds. He notes that discussions about building a new office building were underway when he was first elected five council terms ago.
“It was hard work by the councillors and all those that were involved,” Wawia says. “It was a good job by the contractors and everybody who had a part in it.” Once the old band office is torn down, Wawia says the location could possibly be redeveloped into a new apartment building, a seniors building or an extended care building. Councillor Kirstine Baccar says the new office building will likely be expanded soon as the rental office units are nearly full. “Potentially, we could be looking at a phase two,” Baccar says. “It’s built in a way so we can build on to it.” Councillor Gilbert Deschamps says the idea for the new office building came from the community level.
“It will be a great example for the future generations here how we can get together as a community of Anishinabek, work together, have a dream, have a vision and actually see it come to fruition,” Deschamps says. “I’m hoping this will inspire some of the younger people in our community to get into leadership because they see the current leadership now actually doing things and being successful at it.”