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$7.7 million boost for First Nations Cultural Centre

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The design, based on a traditional Coast-Salish ‘Big House’ , was also appropriate.

"The Longhouse to us is our parliament, our classroom, our church, our hospital," said Chief Campbell.

" It’s a place of strength. It’s a place of energy. This (Cultural Centre) is a new chapter in our history as we are again flourishing in our environment as we have in the past," he said.

The Cultural Centre will serve as link to the past and the future for his people, said Chief Campbell, keeping history and culture alive while creating jobs and pride in the community.

The project is a positive step in the right direction, said Chief Jacob, by bringing different groups together to make it a reality.

"The tradition of our people is to share, to create partnerships," he said. "Mr. Gordon Campbell said he would deliver these things and he was true to his word. Mr. Nault also was true to his word."

Still, Jacob said, "It’s just a start. But…with willing parties on both sides of the table, there’s nothing that can’t be achieved."

The Lil’Wat Nation was represented by Chief Leonard Andrew and Councillor Morgan Wells.

Chief Andrew kept his remarks short, thanking everyone who helped to make the Cultural Centre a reality, and said he was looking forward to the grand opening.

"Today is a huge occasion for the Lil’Wat," he said.

Wells said the project is a positive step for the future of his people

"If you look up in the sky, and continue to look there long enough, a lot of other people will follow you and look up too," said Wells.

" It’s like looking into the future. If we look into the future, the future we want for our children, all others will follow behind to see what we see. So keep looking up, because we can do a lot of things."

The Squamish Lil-wat Cultural Centre will be located across from the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on 1.6 hectares of provincial Crown land, which was provided for 30 years by Land and Water B.C.

The design includes a First Nations village, interpretive trails and a ceremonial gathering area surrounding the Centre.

The main building will be about 25,000 square feet, with auxiliary eco-tour buildings totaling 6,000 square feet. A ground-breaking ceremony is expected to be announced soon, with a completion date in mid-2005.

The total construction costs are estimated to be $15 million. On top of the $7.7 million announced last week, the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations have $2 million for the project, and are looking at ways to fundraise the rest of the money.