Larry Bagnell at a press conference in Whitehorse on July 25, 2018. During Caribou Days in Old Crow last weekend, Bagnell announced funding for a new community centre in the community — $10.8 million from the federal government and $3.6 million from the Yukon government. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Funding announced for new community centre in Old Crow

The chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation said it will be better suited to meet the community’s needs

Old Crow is to receive a new community centre that will be able to better serve and accommodate more people, said Dana Tizya-Tramm, chief of Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.

“This is what has always brought our people together, whether it be for the morning with each other, funerals or celebrating life with each other, marriages or the birth of a new Gwich’in,” he said. “This new space is really exciting, it’s innovative and it still has the Gwich’in principles of our culture.”

On May 19, Yukon MP Larry Bagnell announced federal funding for the centre.

It will see $10.8 million from the federal government and $3.6 million from the Yukon government.

Tizya-Tramm said it will be completed in 2021, at the latest.

The community has been part of its design since day one, he said. Shaped like a water droplet, it will function as a Swiss Army knife for the community. It will include a fitness centre, an upgraded radio station, a gathering space for elders and a commercial-grade kitchen where wild game will be prepared.

It will be 913-square metres.

“It’s just gonna change every aspect of our lives,” Tizya-Tramm said. “This building is positioned and staged to be the driver of our community. We all love our old hall, but it was time for change, it was needed.”

The logs of the old hall will be repurposed, he noted.

The new community centre will be able to house well over 100 people, Tizya-Tramm said, and more space will be able to be created because of a retractable wall.

It marks the first step of a downtown redesign. As a result of the centre, for instance, the road along the river that leads to the town’s centre will be shut down and turned into a walkway for residents instead.

“No vehicles, no ATVs,” Tizya-Tramm said. “That means a whole new space for youth.”

Bagnell said he’s attended celebrations at the Old Hall for almost 30 years.

“It’s a really fundamental piece of infrastructure for this community and their society,” he said, noting that Caribou Days, which occurred over the long weekend and draws people from all over the territory, is hosted there every year.

“The new design, which the Vuntut Gwitchin made, it’ll be a lot bigger, so it’ll have a lot more space for their particular needs.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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