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Haisla Nation’s $7 million youth centre opens its doors for the first time

Ground for the youth centre was broken on June 1, 2021 and the grand opening took place July 6, 2022
The new youth centre will feature recreational areas for kids. (Christian Apostolovski/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

Haisla youth now have a dedicated space after doors to the new youth centre opened in Kitamaat Village today.

The project first began on June 1, 2021 when a ground-breaking ceremony was held.

According to Paul Bjorn, project manager for the youth centre, the total cost of construction for the new facility was roughly $7 million.

“All in, it’s just around $7-million dollars, that includes site works, outside and the playground, the building itself is less than that, somewhere around $6.2-million,” he said.

The youth centre is adjacent to the soccer field and was built with the rising sea level in mind.

“There is a big concern over sea level rise, tsunami and wave inundation and that was all taken carefully into consideration in the design of the building,” said Paul Bjorn, project manager for the youth centre.

He explained that the building is built higher up and there is nearly none of the electrical in the floor. The floor is also made of flood-tolerant material, if there is a flood it makes cleaning much easier.

The main floor of the youth centre features change rooms, washrooms and commercial kitchen space. The building will also feature various rooms including biology and computer science rooms, as well as a staff room and counselling room. There will also be an elevator from the first floor to the second floor to make the building more accessible.

The new youth centre was built where the old soccer clubhouse was and Bjorn says they wanted the new facility to provide the same services the clubhouse did.

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith said this was a historic moment for their community.

“It’s the first time in Haisla history that the youth have their own space, so it’s a very inspiring moment to be a part of and to witness,” she explains. “We had a moment during covid where it inspired one of our staff members, Tracey Ross to make this.”

Smith also says its been in the making for a long time as a dream for the nation.

The facility is not entirely finished yet as some furnishings are still on their way and the elevator is not yet in service. Haisla Nation Director of Education Angie Maitland said they wanted to get summer programs going for their youth.

Once school restarts kids will be able to go down to the centre to grab some breakfast and the school bus will pick them up there to take them to school.

The building also has an elevator for accessibility and has stairs outside for people to move between the floors. (Christian Apostolovski/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)

Christian Aspostolovsky

About the Author: Christian Aspostolovsky

Born and raised in Kitchener Ontario before I found my way up to northwest B.C. working at a small radio station as a news reporter.
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