FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial and federal governments today announced combined funding of $927,500 over three years to assist in further developing the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq Cultural Centre.

The goal for the $1,275,750 project is to expand the current space to enhance tourism opportunities for the community.

“This project has tremendous upside for Elsipogtog, its neighbouring communities and the province, and we are proud to offer our support,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn. “The upgrades and additions will enhance the centre as a tourism destination and help build on its growing success and will offer a place for New Brunswickers to learn about Mi’kmaq culture.”

Dunn spoke on behalf of Réjean Savoie, minister responsible for the Regional Development Corporation.

The provincial government, through the Regional Development Corporation and the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, is contributing $443,750 to the project over three years. The federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), will contribute $483,750 over the same time frame.

“We’re proud to support tourism offerings that both residents and visitors can experience and learn from,” said Ginette Petitpas Taylor, minister of official languages and minister responsible for ACOA. “With today’s announcement, Elsipogtog will be able to share Mi’kmaq culture with more people and provide them with authentic learning opportunities.”

The centre offers guests guided tours of Mi’kmaq culture – past and present – where they can experience smudging and learn from an interpretive knowledge keeper. Visiting a community-raised teepee, a new authentically constructed wigwam, longhouse and sweat lodge are also part of the tours.

The centre is also home to an artisan gift shop, where most of the items available are made by hand in Elsipogtog First Nation and the surrounding Mi'kmaq communities.

“The upgrades to Elsipogtog’s heritage and cultural centre will help the community build on the current successes of the facility so that we can continue to provide economic spinoffs to Elsipogtog and to Kent County,” said Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock. “This support also allows the community to continue to promote awareness of our culture and our history in a progressive way so that prejudices and systemic racism are addressed and thus minimized for our children and future generations.”