By Jamie McKenzie

Aerial view of the future Kebaowek Cultural Centre

Work on Kebaowek First Nation’s future cultural centre is moving full steam ahead and the next question to be answered: what the name will be.

“We keep saying Kebaowek Cultural Centre, but we want some sort of original name for the cultural centre,” said Justin Roy, Kebaowek’s Director of Economic Development.

Design de Plume, a woman and Indigenous owned company out of Sudbury, Ontario, has worked with Kebaowek previously, on the website and logo design for Drumbeat radio and other projects in the community. The company is also working on the branding, web design and logo for the cultural centre.

“It only made sense that we went back to them for the cultural centre,” said Roy.

To move ahead with the naming of the cultural centre and to get as much input from the community, there’s a survey for Kebaowek community members to be able to give their feedback on the name.

“These surveys have been a really efficient and an easier way for our busy membership to get involved and get their input,” he said.

The survey link is available now until March 31st. Paper copies of the survey are also available at the Kebaowek band office.

Work on the cultural centre has been happening in different phases, said Roy, the first phase is to get the parking lot for the marina completed. The current marina parking is located where the cultural centre will be, so the parking lot will be moved across the street, that project should be completed in the spring or summer 2023, said Roy.

The second phase has been funding through the Tourism Relief Fund – a program to support the tourism sector in Canada – which Roy says helps to pay for the non-tangible work like marketing plans, branding, HR, and website design.

“Work that is, for me, just as important as the building itself, because the building is great, but if you don’t have the tools and the plans to guide how you’re going to use and work with this building, you’re usually setting yourself up for failure,” he said.

And the third phase is the actual design and construction of the cultural centre.

“We’ve just been working with an architecture firm called Formline Architecture, they’re the same company that did our marina and boardwalk,” said Roy, “so that we keep things consistent, they’ve already done the marina and boardwalk, they’ve done the early designs of the cultural centre, we want them to finish with the architectural and engineering designs.”

Roy says they’re hoping to sign the contract with Formline Architecture in the coming weeks and once it’s signed they’re looking at a 10 month design timeline.

“The tentative hope is 10 months from now, 12 months from now we could be hiring a contractor and hopefully breaking ground,” said Roy.

As work on the cultural centre moves forward, Roy says the community can expect more surveys about the cultural centre.

“Always trying to get as much community feedback as we can, especially for a project of this size… a cultural centre is always something that the community wishes and asks for,” said Roy.

Although some things have been moving slowly, Roy says he’s hopeful that the cultural centre will have its official opening in 2025.