UPDATE: Nunatsiavut breaks ground, unveils plan for new cultural centre

Government still gathering funds for new building

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on September 3, 2014
The concept for the exterior of the new Torngâsok Cultural Centre for Nunatsiavut, as designed by architect Todd Saunders. — Image courtesy of Nunatsiavut Government

The Nunatsiavut government celebrated Inuit heritage today during a ground-breaking ceremony for the Illusuak cultural centre.

As The Telegram reported in July 2012, when prep work at the site was contracted, the 1,300-square-metre building was inspired by the shapes of traditional Labrador Inuit sod houses — illusuak — and developed by architect Todd Saunders.

“The stories that will be told in Illusuak will make all Labrador Inuit proud, no matter where they live. By understanding where we came from and how we survived as a people, Labrador Inuit, and indeed the rest of the world, will have a better appreciation of who we are as individuals and as a culture continuing to evolve in a modern society,” Nunatsiavut President Sarah Leo said in a statement.

The main construction will now begin.

An office complex housed the former cultural centre, but it caught fire in 2005, resulting in the destruction of pictures, tapes, transcriptions, arts and crafts.

The aboriginal government has since started over, reaching out to community members and local media and working to renew, as much as possible, its archival collection.

At last report, the centre had an estimated capital cost of about $12 million. The hope was to complete construction in summer 2014.

The estimate on construction is now about $15 million, according to a Nunatsiavut government spokesman. All of the money has yet to be secured.

The Nunatsiavut government has committed to moving ahead with the build, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has committed $300,000 in support, according to the Nunatsiavut spokesman, and the aboriginal government will be receiving assistance from various sources at the federal level. The Nunatsiavut spokesman refused to provide an exact figure on the federal support, or say what departments it will come under, pending announcement by the federal government.