Last Saturday (September 4), Hiawatha First Nation celebrated the grand opening of the new Lasting Individual Family Enrichment (LIFE) Centre.
The celebration included a formal ribbon-cutting at the 40,000-square-foot facility, along with a traditional drum circle and prayers, tours of the facility, and more.
Attendees included Hiawatha First Nation Chief Laurie Carr, the elected council, local dignitaries, and members of Hiawatha First Nation and surrounding communities.
“Our newly expanded L.I.F.E Centre honours our past, our present, and ensures the next seven generations of Michi Saagiig Peoples of Hiawatha First Nation can celebrate the richness of our culture and traditions,” said Chief Carr.
Located at 431 Hiawatha Line, the centre features the Anishinaabemowin language throughout, took four years to complete from initial design and planning, and was almost entirely self-funded.
“This much-needed community space represents an independent investment in the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of our growing community, especially for our young people, families, and elders,” Chief Carr added.
VIDEO: Grand opening of LIFE Centre by Hiawatha First Nation
The centre includes additional child care facilities, a ceremonial fire circle and firekeepers lodge, office spaces, a fitness centre with change rooms, a commercial kitchen, and walking trails.
It also includes a gymnasium that doubles as an event performance space. Once pandemic restrictions allow, Hiawatha First Nation plans to rent the gymnasium to the surrounding community.
The L.I.F.E. Centre will host both cultural and health-related events, including Hiawatha First Nation’s annual pow wow, the annual Seven Grandfather awards and gala, community kitchens, craft making, drum circles, and celebrations including weddings, birth celebrations, and celebrations of life.
“Future generations will come here and still feel the spirit and the celebration that’s here,” said Sandra Moore, a member of Hiawatha First Nation who attended the grand opening celebration.
“Coming together in this physical building is just the surface of what we’ll do,” added Moore, who also operates Creators Gifts Native Fabric at nativefabric.com. “When we come together, we connect with each other and we gain a deeper understanding of one another. There is a healing that can happen between people when we come together.”
Located on the north shore of Rice Lake east of the Otonabee River, Hiawatha First Nation includes 500 members who reside both in and outside the nation. The nation has strong partnerships with surrounding communities including Otonabee South Monaghan, Cavan Millbrook, Selwyn, and Peterborough. Many of the nation’s children and youth attend schools in Peterborough and Keene.