After the closing of the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre last year, empty building in Robinson Street was ransacked by vandals several times already.
The North End centre for a long time was a gathering place for Winnipeg's Indigenous community but last year it lost funding and was closed. Now, Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres is looking for an organization that will help with its reopening. It released a request for proposals from city organizations that are ready to run the centre.
While a search for such an organization continues, the building of the centre is being attacked by vandals. The last one happened in February. Last Thursday this was found by patrolling Bear Clan member.
"I'm very upset about this," said the Bear Clan's James Favel, who believes the building is being targeted for scrap metal. "I don't understand why a few people would do such great damage to an institution that benefited so many for so little, for the price of copper."
David Gray, MAFC president, said his organization could not get any information about the centre building on Robinson Street since it is not the owner. They are waiting for interest from Indigenous organizations of Winnipeg who agree to take the centre in control. They are also ready to consider offers from any interested parties.
"We're going to build new friendships either with an existing organization, or we're going to create a new corporate entity and we're going to build one," he said. "But one way or another, we're moving forward, because we can't have nothing."
Whether the new center will be opened in the old building in Robinson Street is not yet clear. Gray said it depends on the condition of the building but at present, MAFC does not have the authority to enter the building and inspect it.
Funding of the centre was stopped in 2017. The reason for this was the late submission of an application for funding, as well as complaints from the community, staff and board members. As Gray said, past centre leadership refused to comply with MAFC recommendations for managing and solving existing problems.
The head of the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre's board has not yet given his comments on the situation.
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