Aundeck Omni Kaning’s new Four Directions Community Complex includes a gym, fitness centre, recreation centre and four office units. The community plans to improve the facility with a digital billboard and a paved parking lot through an Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program investment from the provincial government.

By Rick Garrick

AUNDECK OMNI KANING FIRST NATION—Aundeck Omni Kaning is looking to install a digital billboard and a paved parking lot at the Four Directions Community Complex through $293,699 in provincial government funding.

“We built the multi-complex centre a couple of years ago, about a $4.5 million project, and the parking lot of that building is not paved,” says Aundeck Omni Kaning Chief Patsy Corbiere. “Right now there is no signage there. We do rent out the offices and we do rent out the facility, so we need…proper signage there that people can see and recognize that building. Right now they come down to the band office, they are lost and they don’t know where it is.”

Corbiere says the complex is located in the centre of the community near the skating rink and baseball field.

“We tried to put all of the recreation [facilities] together, so the recreation centre is inside of the complex, and we are just putting a part of the library in there,” Corbiere says. “And there is a full gym there and a fitness centre.”

Corbiere says that the baseball field didn’t have any parking spots before, so people can now use the new parking lot instead of parking along the highway.

“We did an architectural design for the parking lot, so we’ve got that done,” Corbiere says. “All we have to do now is tender for paving.”

The $293,699 Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program (ACCGP) investment was announced on Feb. 27 by Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister David Zimmer. Other ACCGP investments included $100,000 for architectural drawings for an Elders and youth centre in Sheguiandah and $67,235 for renovations to Dokis’ museum and cultural centre.

Zimmer also announced a $48,000 Aboriginal Economic Development Fund (AEDF) investment for an economic strategic plan for Sheshegwaning.

“The grants provided by the Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program and the Aboriginal Economic Development Fund promote growth in First Nation communities by creating jobs and diversifying local economies,” Zimmer says. “This goes a long way in improving the overall well-being and outcomes for Indigenous people in Ontario.”

Kathy Bebamash, Aundeck Omni Kaning’s economic development officer, says the band is currently redefining their marketing strategy for the complex which was completed in 2015.

“We’re looking at some initiatives that will draw in people from [Manitoulin] Island and the tourists,” Bebamash says. “We have services that are available for conferences, meetings and special events.”

Bebamash says the band is also looking for additional funding to install outside stationary fitness equipment to compliment the equipment inside the complex.

“We have about 90 memberships now,” Bebamash says. “We have a key card system so they can come in when it’s convenient for them.”

Bebamash says the complex is an important economic initiative for the community.

“[It addresses] the need for new infrastructure relating to sports and recreation, commercial development, and an avenue to provide health and social services in the District of Manitoulin,” Bebamash says. “50 percent of the membership are 35 years of ages and younger.”

The provincial government has provided more than $38 million in capital grants to Indigenous communities through the ACCGP from 2003 to 2016. The provincial government also plans to invest $95 million in the AEDF, which was launched in 2014, over 10 years.