The centre will house students from First Nations communities who are attending Dennis Franklin Cromarty (DFC) High School.
Wasaya Group executive vice president MaryEllen Thomas told the CBC that, in the wake of several First Nation youth deaths in Thunder Bay over the past decade, students and their parents have been asking for this kind of initiative.
The First Nations organization hasn’t revealed the centre’s location. However, Wasaya Group executive director MaryEllen Thomas says it will be close to Thunder Bay’s DFC High School.
“They want to ensure their safety while they’re in school and while away from home,” she told CBC News.
The Dennis Franklin Cromarty Living Centre will be located close to DFC High School and house 150 students in double rooms. The centre will have 24-hour security and recreation facilities.
It will also provide support services, including counselling, on-site.
The centre will also have guest rooms to accommodate family members visiting from students’ home communities, so parents can spend time with their children.
Thomas said the Wasaya Group hopes construction can start on the DFC Living Centre next year so that it can open its doors to students in 2015.
“It’s really time for people across Canada … to start investing in our First Nation youth,” she said in the CBC interview. Thomas said she hopes to raise part of the required $15 million through fundraising — but noted Wasaya Group will announce some new partnerships next year, which are expected to help generate revenue.
Partners include Dowland Contracting Ltd. And architect Leonard Alfred Wood.
The Wasaya Group operates a network of business enterprises in northern Ontario. Its owners include: Bearskin Lake First Nation, Fort Severn First Nation, Kasabonika Lake First Nation, Keewaywin First Nation, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Kingfisher Lake First Nation, Muskrat Dam First Nation, Nibinamik First Nation. Pikangikum First Nation, Sandy Lake First Nation, Wapekeka First Nation and Wunnumin Lake First Nation.