Ontario’s first purpose-built Indigenous Hub in Toronto’s West Don Lands launches construction

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The Indigenous community in Toronto has started construction on a new Indigenous Hub in Toronto’s West Don Lands. The facility will provide critical health care, spiritual, employment, training and family support.

One feature, the Miziwe Biik Training Institute, will offer a hands-on carpentry workshop, tutoring classrooms, a business incubator and other multi-purpose training spaces for programming and gatherings, as well as a childcare and family centre. The Institute will enable Miziwe Biik to double its physical space, helping to support 700 to 1,000 Indigenous people secure new jobs annually.

“The Miziwe Biik Training Institute is an opportunity to realize the full potential of the GTA’s Indigenous community and provide the local population with the skills and credentials to attain good paying jobs. The Institute is an investment in the future prosperity of the Indigenous community living in the GTA and will contribute to Canada’s economic recovery,” said Nancy Martin, executive director at Miziwe Biik.

The City of Toronto has contributed $7.8  million towards the creation of a new early learning and childcare centre for 49 children as well as a new Indigenous EarlyON Child and Family Centre, which will also be located in the Miziwe Biik Training Institute.

More than 700 people attended the virtual celebration held at Front and Cherry Streets on Indigenous People’s Day. It is poised to be one of the first mixed-use, purpose-built Indigenous Hubs in the country and the first in the province.

The new home for the Health Centre is scheduled to open by the end of 2022 while the rest of the Indigenous Hub’s completion is slated for 2024.

To thoughtfully integrate the variety of uses into the site, the development team conducted numerous community engagements and hired architecture firm BDP Quadrangle in collaboration with Stantec and Indigenous-owned Two Row Architect, to design the masterplan.

Two Row Architect also served as the design consultant on the entire project, developing eight Indigenous design guidelines that ensured all aspects of the Hub honoured Indigenous knowledge, history and values, including: materiality, attention to detail through craftsmanship, directionality, movement of the sun, among others.

“It’s been an honour for Dream, Kilmer Group and Tricon Residential to partner with Anishnawbe Health Toronto on this significant project and we are grateful to have been entrusted to help carry this vision forward,” said Ken Tanenbaum, vice-chair of Kilmer Group.

“This milestone is a major achievement showing how open dialogue and collaboration can help achieve common goals. We look forward to seeing the Indigenous Hub become a vibrant, welcoming place for all. This is a place that will meaningfully reflect Indigenous values, history and stories, and supports the future of AHT and the Miziwe Biik Training Institute for generations to come.”

The 2.4-acre Indigenous Hub spans an entire city block at Front and Cherry Streets in the West Don Lands.  It will include be the new home of Anishnawbe Health Toronto (AHT), the Miziwe Biik Training Institute, a childcare and family centre, the Canary House mixed-use condominium building and restored Canary heritage building by Dream Unlimited Corp. and Kilmer Group, along with a purpose-built rental building, developed by Dream, Dream Impact Trust, Kilmer and Tricon Residential.

In 2015, as a legacy of the Pan Am/Parapan AM Games, the Province of Ontario transferred the land to Anishnawbe Health Toronto. AHT then partnered with Dream, Dream Impact Trust, Kilmer Group and Tricon Residential to co-develop the site for residential and retail uses.

“This is a time of pain and hurt in this world and a reminder of just how much work there is in front of us,” said Chief R. Stacey Laforme, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. “But moments in time and adversity like this can turn a nation onto a good path.  And it is time for that good path.  Seeing collaborations like this Hub, where all walks of life come together to make a dream into a reality, is very much in keeping with our traditional values.  It is an example of a good path, and it gives us hope for the future.”

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