(SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – Dec. 7, 2023): Algoma University has been awarded $5 million in funding from the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund (CCSF) for Makwa Waakaa’igan – a future centre of cultural excellence, Truth and Reconciliation, learning and healing.
Makwa Waakaa’igan is a $43.3-million project to be built on Algoma University’s Sault Ste. Marie campus, founded through the leadership of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA), a community of Residential School Survivors and their descendants. Makwa Waakaa’igan will serve as a centre of excellence for sharing global Indigenous practices; it will house the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) archives and Indigenous teachings; it will integrate academic research, art, healing, and ceremony; and it will be the home of a new Mental Health and Addictions Research and Training Institute, established in partnership with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University.
On its Sault Ste. Marie campus, Algoma University’s Shingwauk Hall, is the site of the former Shingwauk Indian Residential School. The Algoma University Act gives the public university a Special Mission, which includes fostering cross-cultural learning between Indigenous and other communities, keeping with the site’s important history.
Makwa Waakaa’igan is expected to draw over 35,000 visitors annually and contribute to the education of 15,000 post-secondary and high school students. Construction is set to begin in 2024, with a grand opening in 2026. While Makwa Waakaa’igan is a top priority for Algoma University, the University is deeply and fully committed to providing space and support for the Indigenous-led site search at the Sault Ste. Marie campus. Construction and project timelines are considered draft and subject to change until such time as the site search team clears the area.
Through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, the Government of Ontario is also supporting the construction of Makwa Waakaa’igan.
The Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“Places like the Shingwauk site are important cultural spaces that preserve our history, and as a
government we recognize that. Supporting Algoma University in the construction of the Makwa
Waakaa’igan centre will provide healing and cross-cultural Indigenous learning, advancing truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities. We look forward to witnessing the positive impact of the centre.”
Algoma University President and Vice Chancellor Asima Vezina
“Makwa Waakaa’igan will be the first of its kind in the world – a state-of-the-art facility focused on truth-telling, relationship building, respect and healing. The generous funding provided by Canadian Heritage and its Canada Cultural Spaces Fund towards the realization of Makwa Waakaa’igan will help Algoma University to deliver this Indigenous-led project focused on decolonization. With the Government of Canada’s support, Algoma University is making a major investment in Sault Ste. Marie, and in Truth and Reconciliation. Makwa Waakaa’igan brings Algoma University ever closer to realizing our vision: leading meaningful change for generations to come.”