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Indigenous arbour to be built at Selkirk College Nelson campus

An Indigenous cultural arbour will be going up on the 10th Street Nelson campus of Selkirk College by the fall next year.

The provincial government announced late last week that Selkirk College, the City of Nelson and Indigenous Nations are collectively receiving a $220,000 grant from the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation and Heritage BC.

The city says planning for the arbour will start immediately and should be built by fall 2023.

Nelson Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Cormack is really happy about the grant that will help further their oath to truth and reconciliation by working with native groups while developing the project.

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“We’re quite excited about it. Certainly, council has set as a priority to advance its truth and reconciliation with our Indigenous partners and we see through this project that it will give a real opportunity for that to happen,” Cormack told Vista Radio.

An arbour looks like an oversize circular gazebo with a ring in the center for sacred fires plus a hole at the roof peak to let the smoke escape.

A planning meeting, described by Cormack as a “bit of a kickoff,” is already happening this week.

Cormack says the “key is how do we engage our Indigenous partners in this” since Nelson is in an “interesting region” where there is not one established First Nations community.

Selkirk College President Angus Graeme says it will benefit many people including the Indigenous community, “knowing they have a safe space to gather and practice cultural ceremony, students … and community members who want to learn, witness, and partake in advancing truth and reconciliation.”

Nelson was among 54 communities in British Columbia to receive money from the $30 million Time Immemorial grant program. Ninety-two projects got money out of 196 applications received.

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