New life for Neechi Commons

·3 min read

A new agreement will see a new tenant move into the Neechi Commons Building on Main Street, and with the move they say they will now have more room and more resources as they work to support the wellness of First Nations children, youth, and families.

In late July, it was announced that the Southeast Resource Development Council (SERDC) a long-running not for-profit organization that delivers programs and services to southeastern Manitoba First Nations, has purchased the Neechi Commons building on Main Street from the Cambrian Credit Union.

The approximately 28,000 square foot building that sits just north of Higgins Avenue on Main Street was previously the home of a grocery store, restaurant and gallery space, but that venture closed in 2018.

After announcing their purchase of the building, SERDC also announced that they will be leasing the space to Shawenim Abinoojii Inc. (SAI) a First Nations-led not-for-profit organization that aims to “support the wellness of Indigenous children, youth, and families by providing services to Southeast Child and Family Services, and exclusive, specialized home placement options to SERDC members.”

Renovation work has now begun to transform the building into SAI’s new centralized headquarters.

SAI offers services like support work programs, foster care programs, wellness services, and educational services for children and youth.

The organization has operated out of four separate offices in Winnipeg’s North End since 2018, and said the move into the Neechi Commons building will help them to enhance their programs and services.

“Moving to 865 Main St. will bring our programs and services together under one roof,” SAI executive director Victoria Fisher said in a release. “This goal of centralization will further improve service recipient experiences, and improve the coordination and effectiveness of services.

“This will support staff in working collaboratively across programs, and will allow service recipients to access resources at one location.”

SERDC said the purchase of the building and the leasing of it to SAI fits within their current mandate, as they look to assist and support southeastern Manitoba First Nations communities and people, and look to create opportunities that are “First Nations led.”

“It is important that we provide for our members through a culturally appropriate service delivery model,” SERDC executive director Doug Mercer said in a release. “We are pleased to be able to make this purchase using 100% of our own source revenue.

“This partnership with Shawenim Abinoojii fits perfectly within our model, so we are honoured to support a transition that will enhance benefits to SERDC members.”

In addition to creating office space, SAI said planned renovations of the building, which are now underway, will include a community meeting area, common areas, and classrooms.

SAI said they hope to be set up and established in the Neechi Commons building by March of 2023.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun