Mounds meeting put off yet again

FORT FRANCES—The Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre (Manitou Mounds) has again postponed a meeting between it and several other parties because some officials were not prepared to meet Wednesday.
The centre was planning to request emergency funds to assist in its operating costs—and also hoped for help to share the $1.5-million deficit Manitou Rapids currently is carrying for running it over the past several years.
Centre spokesman Sonny McGinnis said they had hoped the meeting would include Natural Resources minister David Ramsey (who also is responsible for aboriginal affairs) as well as officials from Indian Affairs, Heritage Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
But Ramsey declined to meet with the group.
And although Indian Affairs was available, McGinnis said they had not heard back from Heritage Canada nor the MoE.
“I met with [the band] council last week and they told me postpone it and see if a little bit of lobbying effort will get us the officials we need to have this meeting,” McGinnis noted.
“So we postponed the meeting to give us time to secure appropriate officials, especially from [the
Please see “Mounds,” B10
province].
“These are the people we believe have to be here in order to put this to rest,” he stressed.
McGinnis said Ramsey referred the group to local officers from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and Ministry of Tourism, but they want him here—or at the very least his deputy.
“We need to get the right officials, get the right answers—even if it’s negative, at least we know,” he remarked, saying he believes they will get the officials they need to hold the meeting.
“I believe it’ll take time and re-educating the powers that be,” McGinnis added. “The tripartite agreement that built the centre is 10 years old and governments have changed, officials have changed, so I think it’s more an educating process.”
He said the community entered into the agreement with the understanding it was a partnership. Yet now they are carrying all the operating costs—and keeping the centre open on its own is just getting to be too much to handle.
The original agreement lapsed a number of years ago and now the community is footing $200,000-$300,000 a year to operate the historical centre.
However, McGinnis noted he has been given the authority to mobilize a local elders group to give some basic site management responsibility as a committee, as well as to help with some of the developments they’d like to see there.
“As one responsibility they’re going to advise on the operating issues,” he said. “Two, they’re going to be looking at this curriculum native studies project we hope to establish with the [Rainy River District School] board, and the board is certainly interested at this point.”
And he said the elders will help to develop a native experience program there, called the “Cultural Awareness Native Outdoor Experience,” they hope to add as an attraction.
McGinnis hopes these initiatives will help encourage growth of the centre.
A new date for the meeting has not yet been set, but McGinnis said the centre will keep its efforts going.
“We’ve asked our political offices to advocate on our behalf to see if we can get Ontario-Canada to this meeting as a first step,” he noted.
(Fort Frances Times)

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