SUDBURY -- The federal and provincial governments are working with Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie to build an $18 million Indigenous culture centre.

The federal government is providing more than $7.1 million, the province more than $5.9 million, while Algoma University is contributing over $4.7 million.

"The project includes renovations to the university’s East Wing building to construct Mukqua Waakaa’igan, the Anishinaabemowin name endowed to the new cultural facility," said a news release Thursday from the office of Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

"This space will serve as a venue to share and promote the culture of Indigenous peoples in Canada and showcase the work produced by children of Shingwauk residential school survivors."

The new facility will provide better access to culturally appropriate spaces for the local urban Indigenous population and surrounding rural First Nations communities, the release said.

"The cultural facility is intended to serve as a centre of excellence, promote Anishinaabe culture, and help to advance the Calls to Action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission."

All orders of government continue to work together for the people of Ontario to make strategic infrastructure investments in communities across the province when needed most.

“Construction of Mukqua Waakaa’igan cultural centre at Algoma University is an important step in moving forward on our path to reconciliation," McKenna said in the release.

"Federal funding will help this new centre to serve as a centre of excellence to the community, promote Anishinaabe culture and create a diverse, respectful space for the local urban Indigenous population and surrounding rural First Nations."

“Algoma University’s Mukqua Waakaa’igan cultural centre will not only serve as a centre of excellence helping to promote Anishinaabe culture, it also will help bridge the gap between the public and Indigenous communities to build a diverse, respectful environment and learn about Truth and Reconciliation and the residential schools’ legacy,” said Sault MP Terry Sheehan.

Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities and Sault MPP, said Shingwauk Hall is the only building left in Ontario that housed a residential school that you can visit.

Dark period of Canadian history

"The Children of Shingwauk are the survivors of this dark period in Canadian history; they have worked tirelessly to speak the truth of what occurred in Canada’s residential schools," Romano said in the release.

"This announcement is so much more than the construction of a large infrastructure project in Sault Ste. Marie. This $18 million project will house the largest set of residential school archives in the country and serve as a destination for people to learn more about our history. The project will form a critical step towards reconciliation.”

"Today marks a momentous occasion in the history of the Shingwauk site and for Algoma University and the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association," said Asima Vezina, president and vice-chancellor of Algoma University.

"Mukqua Waakaa’igan will become a centre of cultural excellence for the country; a place in Baawaating, where people of all cultures will be welcomed from around the world to share and learn from and with each other as part of the university’s commitment to creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for cross-cultural understanding, teaching, learning and healing."