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Ottawa puts up more money to transform historic Bay building into Indigenous hub

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The federal government is putting up another $31 million for the transformation of a former Hudson's Bay Company flagship store in Winnipeg.

The project, announced two years ago, is to see the six-storey, 60,000-square-metre downtown building turned into an Indigenous hub of housing, social services, government offices and cultural space.

Hudson's Bay Company transferred the historic building in 2022 to the Southern Chiefs' Organization, which represents 34 First Nation groups in southern Manitoba.

 

The interior of the former Bay building in Winnipeg on May 24, 2024 (Jeff Keele/CTV News Winnipeg)

Ottawa earlier put up $65 million in a combination of forgivable and low-interest loans, while the Manitoba government offered $35 million in support.

The project has been running over its original $130-million budget, and the new federal money is earmarked for repairs and upgrades.

The store opened in 1926 and closed in 2020, and a valuation at the time found the building was worth very little due to the amount of work needed to bring it up to code.

The project is named Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn, which translates to "it is visible."

The interior of the former Bay building in Winnipeg on May 24, 2024 (Jeff Keele/CTV News Winnipeg)

Dan Vandal, the federal minister for regional economic development on the Prairies, said the transformation of the building is an example of reconciliation.

"The creation of Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn in Winnipeg will revitalize our downtown and move us from promises to action," Vandal said Friday in a statement.

   This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

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