The people of Cambridge celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day by breaking ground at the new site for 30 new affordable housing units for the Indigenous community.
The KW Urban Native Wigwam Project (KWUNWP) held a ground breaking ceremony at 27 Cambridge St. in Cambridge, the new home of their 30 unit building.
“It always seems to take a lot to kind of access the spaces that we need to have our cultural stuff,” said Lee Ann Hundt executive director for KWUNWP. “Actually having native housing here in town is going to open up a whole lot more than just housing. It's going to create cultural experiences and ceremonies.”
Around 20 people showed up to celebrate the new housing units and pay their respects during Indigenous Peoples Day.
Although there are not many spaces in Cambridge for native gatherings and celebrations, KWUNWP is hoping to change that and address the lack of representation in the area.
“To be able to celebrate this on Indigenous Peoples Day is just another bonus,” said Hundt. “It's important to have a location where people can have the chance to do those kinds of things and right now, Cambridge doesn't have that.”
In her speech, Hundt said, Cambridge rolled out the red carpet for them and welcomed them with open arms.
City councillor Pam Wolf made an appearance and thanked Hundt for bringing these units to the city and addressing the growing need for housing.
“Just the fact that it's affordable housing to start with, which is, I'd say, our greatest need in the city, but to have it an indigenous space, I think is is just really opening up a new culture for our city and new appreciation for the variety of citizens that we have here,” Wolf said.
The city has removed barriers like development charges and permits to help move along this project and get more affordable housing for the city.
Everyone who attended the event was asked to take a red ribbon filled with tobacco, fill it with warm wishes and positive vibes and release the tobacco back to the earth.
This new project will give 30 families a new start and allow them to practice and celebrate their culture without judgment, Hundt said.
The KWUNWP said the Indigenous community can now celebrate the return of this land to them on such an important day.
“Our vision and dream for 27 Cambridge St. is simple; create a community space for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in Cambridge. A space that will be culturally safe and inclusive for all,” said KWUNWP.