The second phase of Asooahum Crossing will soon take shape with a planned Peace Trail, community cultural centre and ceremonial space.
It’s been a 10-year journey, but the complete vision for an affordable housing and Indigenous culture centre that was first revealed in 2011 for 3.5 acres on Riverside Drive will finally be realized through a partnership between the City of Red Deer and Red Deer Native Friendship Centre.
Following a ceremonial smudge and prayer that opened Monday’s council meeting on International Indigenous Persons Day, city councillors approved financing that will help Phase 2 get underway.
Included was a transfer of $590,000 to fully implement the final stage of the agreement and a $140,000 partnership capital grant to leverage federal and provincial funding for phase two of the project.
The first phase of the Asooahum project — the affordable housing portion — opened in 2017 after the provincial government allocated about $2.6 million for 16 housing units to be built.
On Monday, the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre Society announced it would be moving on to the second phase of the project by building the planned Indigenous cultural components for the enjoyment of the entire community.
Plans for a Peace Trail, gardens, culture centre and other amenities will soon get underway after Red Deer city council approved some funding for Phase 2 of the Asooahum project, which is located within the Waskasoo Park Trail System.
“This project has been an important part of our local journey of Truth and Reconciliation. Today marks a new milestone, with a partnership agreement created to help facilitate phase two of the cultural vision of Asooahum Crossing,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
“While there is more to be accomplished, we are committed to continue to work together toward the vision through our continued relationship and formal partnership with Red Deer Native Friendship Society,” she added
Elder John Sinclair, of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, said, “In the spirit of reconciliation, I look forward to a long-lasting partnership with the City of Red Deer as we move forward in phase two of Asooahum Crossing.”
The city expects to recoup some money from the eventual sale of four acres in Red Deer’s Clearview Ridge that were originally pegged for an Aboriginal affordable housing development. In 2011, the province had transferred land in Clearview Ridge to the City of Red Deer for the construction of the Asooahum Crossing project. But the complex was never built there because of much objection from nearby landowners.
Referring to the underlying discrimination fueling some of the public objections, Veer said the community needs to do better going forward. She called council’s support of Phase 2 of Asooahum an important step towards reconciling with the past.