October 1, 2010
HOLLOW WATER FIRST NATION-A first-of-its-kind attraction in Manitoba will teach international visitors about our province’s rich natural and cultural heritage through the eyes of the Aboriginal people of Manitoba, Premier Greg Selinger announced at a site dedication ceremony held near here today with community elders and schoolchildren.
“We have much to learn from the indigenous people of Manitoba about the importance of protecting our natural and cultural treasures for future generations,” said Selinger.  “The Waabanong Anishinaabe Interpretive Learning Centre will provide a suitable location for that learning to take place at the gateway to Manitoba’s east side, an area recognized internationally as the heart of the world’s last remaining intact boreal forest.”
The centre will be the first of several education and tourism opportunities expected to be developed jointly with Aboriginal communities over the coming years.  Developing a cultural and ecotourism infrastructure is part of Manitoba’s long-term tourism strategy that will support the Aboriginal-led effort to secure UNESCO World Heritage designation for an area of the east side boreal forest.  The site announced today is not part of the area being proposed for UNESCO designation but will complement the spirit and intent of the world heritage project known as Pimachiowin Aki – the Land that Gives Life, the premier said.
“Cultural and ecotourism are among the fastest-growing segments of the global tourism market,” said Culture, Heritage and Tourism Minister Flor Marcelino.  “Manitoba is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this trend toward sustainable tourism and this new development will provide visitors from all over the world a place to learn about the people and environment that make Manitoba special.”
The site is being designed to eventually anchor a four-season destination that will offer visitors a hands-on learning experience through the use of multimedia exhibits, workshops, classes and excursions, Marcelino said.  Future plans will include a tipi village and four-season cabins.
The project is being led by a non-profit corporation jointly managed by provincial and Aboriginal representatives.  An elders advisory council will continue to oversee the project to ensure all activities are consistent with traditional Aboriginal teachings.  The province is providing the entire $2.5-million capital cost of the project and construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2011.  Construction tenders will be issued this fall and will include provisions to ensure area residents benefit from jobs related to the site’s development, Selinger said.
“The First Peoples of Manitoba have a unique relationship with the land, waters and animals that have sustained our people here for thousands of years,” said Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson.  “This will be a place for Aboriginal people to pass on the teachings of our ancestors in a way that honours this unique relationship by protecting the land for future generations.”
The building is being designed by Prairie Architects and will achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation through the use of local building materials and the incorporation of green features such as solar power, composting toilets and triple-pane windows.
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