MEANINGFUL GESTURE - Students of G.H. Dawe School presented a blanket to Asooahum Crossing to honour truth and reconciliation. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Officials gather to celebrate grand opening of Asooahum Crossing

Facility offers affordable housing for Red Deer’s Indigenous peoples

Providing safe and culturally supported housing for Aboriginal citizens as well as celebrating and connecting the community with Indigenous peoples was Red Deer Native Friendship Society’s vision for Asooahum Crossing.

The Asooahum Crossing project’s official grand opening was celebrated today by many community members and government officials for the completion of its first phase.

“We’re pleased to support the City of Red Deer to increase their supply of affordable housing. Phase one of the Asooahum Crossing facility represents another meaningful step in the provincial affordable housing strategy that I unveiled this summer,” said Minister of Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson.

She said the occasion marked an important day for the City, the local Indigenous community and the province, as safe, accessible and affordable housing makes life better for Albertans.

“As we all know a better life starts with a good home. The new homes available here today at Asooahum will be the starting point of something great for these families that live here,” she said.

Over the next five years, she said, the government will continue to improve and upgrade more than 70,000 affordable housing units and build more than 4,000 new ones.

The City of Red Deer has worked jointly with the Red Deer Native Friendship Society (RDNFS) on this project since 2012 and for a few years before that.

“Today marks not only the realization of a project that will bring much needed affordable housing and cultural connections for our local Aboriginal community, but also provides the citizens of Red Deer with new opportunities for Aboriginal cultural awareness and appreciation,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

Veer said it also marks a new beginning and increased accessibility for the park node where they stood.

“The City of Red Deer continues to support the vision of Asooahum Crossing and all that it means not only for the people of Red Deer but as an example for our province and country of a community shared journey towards reconciliation,” said Veer.

Asooahum Crossing provides 16 units of affordable housing to those families in need.

Richard Feehan, minister of Indigenous relations said Asooahum Crossing is the right place, the right kind of work to be done and the right kind of people to bring it all together.

“If there is a major piece of work that needs to happen in this province over the next 10 or 15 years it is going to be focusing on making sure that there is housing available for everybody because if we have housing available for everybody then so much more is possible,” he said.

Also as part of the grand opening celebration, students from G.H Dawe School came forward to present Asooahum with a blanket, made by the middle school students to honour truth and reconciliation. The second blanket they made will hang at their school to represent their ongoing commitment to be allies and to reconcile.

Asooahum Crossing will look at hopefully having phase two complete in 2020, which will include a tower unity, office space for the Friendship Society and more housing.

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