Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung celebrates Trillium Foundation funding with open house event

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

Visitors were welcomed to an open house and fish fry on Saturday, Sept. 10 to explore the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre (Manitou Mounds). The open house served to celebrate the funding the foundation has given the mounds over the last few years.

During the open house visitors were able to get a wagon ride around the property to explore the historic indigenous burial mounds throughout the property, as well as the natural setting of the site which is nestled along the shores of Rainy River.

Natalie Nachtman is the interim manager at Manitou Mounds. She says the funding, which amounts to $224,200 over the last two years, has helped the centre to reopen after the COVID shutdown as well as make updates to the building and programming.

“Since COVID hit us so hard and we weren’t allowed to open, we lost quite a lot of money not being able to open,” Nachtman said. “So this was able to support us in our reopening. Being able to have guided tours, to fix up some issues in the building and to develop online programming as well.”

Archivist and grant manager Jessie Richard added that the grant money was earmarked specifically for education purposes which went to cover the salary of the education programmer as well as helping with building upgrades to support education programs like internet infrastructure.

“I think the best part about this grant is the ability to offer education programming for free,” Richard said. “Both online and in person. Programming that would typically be a big expense for people that would want to attend like bandolier bag making and we had ribbon skirt making because ribbon skirts are a hefty amount of money to buy so we had a seven hour program that was completely free for anyone who wanted to join us. We do have some education programming specific for band members or Treaty #3 members, simply because of the importance of the item that they’re making or low seating availability for the program. Otherwise it’s been open to everyone in the communities around here and it’s always nice to see everyone coming out for it.”

The grant also allowed the centre to set up Starlink satellite internet which is more reliable than their former provider.

“Prior to [getting Starlink] it was terrible,” Nachtman said. “Every time it rained, there was no internet. So now with better internet we’re able to work better, and we can also offer people who come into our rental space so they can have the internet to do whatever programming, training or meetings that they are doing as well.”

Richard is now working on additional grant applications to help offset what they won’t be receiving from the Trillium Foundation until a new application is submitted and approved. Some grant applications can take three to seven months to be approved according to Richard.

“So it’s my job now to find more money somewhere else,” Richard said. “Trillium was significantly supporting us and we were able to extend that grant over a year and a bit simply because of COVID cuts and we’re still using that grant now for programming at the moment.”

Vistors to Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung (Manitou Mounds) were treated to a free fish fry and wagon tours of the property . The open house was a celebration of almost a quarter million dollars in funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. –Allan Bradbury photo