Full house on hand at Manitou Mounds for funding presentation

Several hundred people were on hand Friday afternoon as Attorney General Charles Harnick presented Rainy River First Nations Chief Jim Leonard with a cheque for $1.4 million to continue work on the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Mounds Historical Centre.
Chief Leonard said the funding reiterated the province’s commitment to the Rainy River First Nation and other native bands in the area.
He added the money would be put to good use immediately, completing the rest of the historical centre and finishing the landscaping and trails network to the mounds.
“The Manitou Mounds project will combine native historic site preservation and education into a top-notch tourist attraction,” said Harnick, who is also the minister responsible for native affairs.
“This land belongs to everyone,” Chief Leonard told the crowd gathered at the annual Manitou Mounds fish fry, adding it belonged to the district, not just the First Nation bands.
Meanwhile, Rainy River First Nation has wasted no time spending the province’s money. Stacey Bruyere, curator and archaeologist at the historical centre, already has been in contact with a design firm to create the exhibits.
“So far, we have completed the story line,” she said, which will be set up as a walk through time of the aboriginal people. The construction and installation of the exhibits will be the next step.
“It will take about a year to get everything done right,” she said. “We waste no time here.”
Chief Leonard said all the road signs for the centre should be up in the next few weeks. And by next summer, he figured it will be able to attract large groups of visitors.
But that isn’t stopping tour groups from coming this summer, Bruyere said. And although the exhibits won’t be finished, there’s still plenty to see out there.
“The main trail [to the mounds] is laid down and cut out,” she noted. “Now all we have to do is the landscaping.”
Bruyere added Friday’s funding announcement has added an air of excitement at the historical centre as solid completion dates can now be set.
“It was what we wanted,” she said. “You can only imagine it happening.”