A cultural, spiritual and academic centre for Aboriginal students currently under construction at the University of Manitoba received a philanthropic boost from South Beach Casino on August 29.
The casino presented a $50,000 cheque to university president and vice-chancellor Emőke Szathmáry as part of its Community Spirit Fund, which supports educational, cultural, recreational and other projects of importance to the local community.
“It is an honour for the University of Manitoba to be at the center of such a significant connection between the past, present and future of this province,” says Dr. Szathmáry. “As the university seeks to be the first choice of Aboriginal students, a state-of-the-art Aboriginal Students’ Centre that has the support of its own people is of enormous assistance to our goal. This gift could not spell out ‘community spirit’ any more meaningfully.”
Through the Community Spirit Fund, the casino contributes about five percent of its net income annually to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal projects.
“South Beach Casino understands the importance of education for Aboriginal people and applauds the University of Manitoba for its commitment to a new Aboriginal Students’ Centre,” says Chief Ian Bushie of Hollow Water First Nation. “The casino believes strongly in sharing its success with local communities.”
South Beach Casino is located on the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Reserve and opened in May 2005. It is owned by seven First Nations: Black River, Bloodvein, Brokenhead, Hollow Water, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Poplar River.
The new 13,000 square foot Aboriginal Students’ Centre is slated for opening early in 2008. It will include meeting space, computer lab, student lounge and study area and a dedicated space for Elders-in-Residence. The centre, inclusive of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, will be available to Aboriginal students and faculty and to the campus as a whole. It will serve as a hub for activities and programs for and about Aboriginal peoples and cultures.
The architecture of the student centre will also respect the diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and traditions. Key members of the design team of the building are Aboriginal and are graduates of the Faculty of Architecture.