A sod-turning and ground-blessing ceremony Friday has marked the start of a $4.3-million building for the Katzie First Nation reserve in Pitt Meadows.
“This is the core of our community now. We’re trying to rebuild our community spirit,” Peter James Jr. said shortly after the formalities concluded behind the band office.
Drumming and singing preceded the blessing of the ground, with two elders, two young people – female and male – intended to give stability based on the native principal of four directions.
The official start means only that soil preloading can begin, in order to prepare the ground so it doesn’t sink when the Katzie Health and Community Building is completed.
But construction of the building, which includes a $2.1-million contribution from Health Canada, with the rest provided by Katzie First Nation Resources, should be complete in the spring of 2015.
The building will contain a commercial kitchen along with health offices, and a gymnasium/dining area with the capacity of holding 450 people.
“It’s going to be our community hall,” James said.
Coleen Pierre said the project is the realization of a dream started decades ago by youth who sketched out what they’d like to see for a recreational building, then presented it to their elders.
“Thirty years later, we’re fulfilling their dream,” she added.
“Some of the kids who started the process are here.”
Newly elected chief Susan Miller said starting the project took a lot of hard work.
“It will become the hub of our community.”