Winnipeg Indigenous-led service provider gets $1.8M in federal funding toward expansion

An Indigenous-led community service organization in Winnipeg’s inner-city will begin a building expansion later this year thanks to a $1.8 million contribution from the federal government.

Ka Ni Kanichihk on McDermot Avenue was founded in 2001 and offers a wide range of services that include skill-building and educational programs, mentorship and violence intervention and prevention programs, food and housing security initiatives and a daycare.

It’s been fundraising for the expansion project since 2010, and this $1.8 million brings its efforts closer to $6 million out of the $8 million goal. That hits the organization’s 75 per cent trigger point, which will allow the expansion to begin this year.

“Indigenous people know what we need to do and we have the solution for people’s health and wellness,” said Ka Ni Kanichihk executive director Dodie Jordaan.

“When we think about Indigenous people being overrepresented in statistics, Indigenous-led organizations are the antidote to those. So we know what we need to do. We just need the space and the resources to do it.”

The new funding will allow them to break ground on expanding the current building to 22,000 square feet from 8,700 square feet starting late summer or early fall of 2022.

Work ‘super impactful’

Dana Connolly, associate executive director of Ka Ni Kanichihk, said the organization is special in Winnipeg because its programming is rooted in First Nations culture and ceremony.

“We know that the folks who walk through the doors are sometimes our cousins and our family members, and so everybody who walks through the door is treated like a relative,” said Connolly.

“I think that that’s unique and that’s what makes the work that we do super impactful.”

Dana Connolly, associate executive director at Ka Ni Kanichihk, says people who access the services there are treated like relatives. (Submitted by Nadia Kidwai)

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu spoke about the project during a visit to Winnipeg on Friday.

“The expansion will allow them to serve double the number of people they serve,” said Hajdu. 

“They work with Indigenous young people, with two-spirited people, with individuals that need supports in the community to navigate services and to get the kinds of things they need to to move forward in a good way.” 

Jordaan is hopeful the expansion will be completed by next spring.

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