McMurray Métis Sold 7.8 Acres on MacDonald Island For Cultural Centre

The McMurray Mtis are receiving land on MacDonald Island for a cultural centre.

Wood Buffalo council approved transferring 7.8 acres around Fairview Drive on Tuesday for a nominal fee.

The centre would be in the shape of an infinity river and include an art gallery, fire circle, a conference centre, a room for youth programming, and more.

McMurray Mtis President Gail Gallupe says this will be a huge benefit to the community in more ways than one.

“The Fort McMurray community needs, not only the positivity, all the jobs and economic infusion from this investment but also the tourism that will come with a world-class design of the new Mtis cultural centre.”

The McMurray Mtis will allocate $5.5 million for the project, while the federal government will be covering the remaining $16.5 million through a grant.

They have been looking to acquire land around the Clearwater River for multiple years in return for the past injustices at Moccasin Flats.

In the late 1970’s early 1980’s, Indigenous residents were forced from their homes along the Clearwater and Athabasca junction to help further develop the urban service area. The area is now home to the Syncrude Towers.

“The Moccasin Flats evictions are a traumatic and painful point of Mtis history in the Wood Buffalo region that continues to have effects on the present-day community,” added Gallupe.

As part of a recent report made on Moccasin Flats, the transferring of land in the area for a cultural centre was highlighted as one step towards reconciliation.

Council unanimously supported the land transfer.

Councillor Phil Meagher called the project an ‘iconic piece of architecture.’

“This would be an attraction to Fort McMurray… but I think this speaks more to the culture and what we’re all about here.”

The centre would replace three baseball diamonds on MacDonald Island. Luana Bussieres with the Re/Max BP Co-ed Slo Pitch League spoke in favour of the centre, but asked the municipality to look into alternatives for those who would have used the fields.

The McMurray Mtis are hoping to have work on the centre start in the fall of this year with the grand opening taking place in the spring of 2022. They believe construction will create ‘hundreds of jobs.’

However, they still need to apply for a building permit which will be discussed at a public hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

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