The new Epekwitk Assembly of Councils building is nearing completion on the Charlottetown waterfront.
The first tenants are anticipated to move into the office space in early January.
The state-of-the-art structure will house the Assembly Chamber for the P.E.I. Mi’kmaq leadership, provide office space for L’nuey (the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq rights initiative) and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. – sister organizations under the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils.
“The Epekwitk Mi’kmaq can be proud of this new landmark that will serve as an economic hub for our people for generations to come,” said Abegweit First Nation Chief Junior Gould.
The Epekwitk Assembly of Councils calls the new structure an important stepping-stone towards reconciliation and a long overdue presence for the Mi’kmaq leadership in the province’s capital city.
The building is the first foray into real estate development by the First Nations in the Charlottetown area. The building is owned jointly through a shared economic development corporation. The revenue generated will provide own-source revenue for P.E.I.’s First Nations.
The building will also serve as an economic driver for the First Nations in the province. The ground floor is planned to serve as a business start-up centre serving Indigenous entrepreneurs. The main purpose of the ground floor is to assist in the incubation and development of Indigenous businesses and to support Indigenous entrepreneurs and showcase artisans.
The First Nations economic development branch is expected to be fully operational in the next few months, generating more capital investment and economic spinoffs for the First Nations across the Island.
The Epekwitk Assembly of Councils building will also be a focal point of Mi’kmaq history and culture, with artwork and artisan design being reflected on the interior and exterior.
“Our ancestors have been here in Epekwitk (P.E.I.) for 12,000 years, but our visual presence in the Island’s capital has been long overdue,’’ said Gould. “This will provide our people with a space to show and share our beautiful culture and history, as well as an opportunity for our Indigenous entrepreneurs to flourish.’’
In addition to the new building, the Epekwitk Assembly of Councils also has a new logo. The crest has been designed, in shape and elements, to display unity with the new logos of the Abegweit First Nation and the Lennox Island First Nation as well as L’nuey.
“This crest will be seen as a proud symbol and serve as visual identifier of the Epekwitk Mi’kmaq leadership,” said Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard.
The environmentally friendly building was designed with colours and materials that symbolize the red earth, blending in with adjacent buildings and incorporating circles and curves that feature prominently in Mi’kmaq culture. Funding for the building was provided by various federal government departments and the province.
The Epekwitk Assembly of Councils hopes to have many more such projects in the coming years.
“This building represents a pivotal moment for the P.E.I. Mi’kmaq and is something in which all Islanders can take pride,’’ said Bernard.
“True commitment towards reconciliation has been demonstrated by our federal and provincial governments in partnership to bring this building to life.”