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UPDATED: Matawa Tribal Council acquires Dawson Court

Its uses will include training, programming and transitional housing
Dawson Court two
Teams of workers were observed Tuesday at the former Dawson Court Home for the Aged on North Algoma St. (Tbnewswatch)

THUNDER BAY — Teams of workers were scurrying around Tuesday at Dawson Court, the long-empty former nursing home near Boulevard Lake.

It's just the beginning of the process of readying the site to host Matawa First Nations Tribal Council's Training and Wellness Centre.

Matawa confirmed its purchase of the property after an inquiry on Wednesday by

Matawa represents nine First Nations north and east of Thunder Bay.

It wants to redevelop the building to house three of its services together – Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment & Training Services, Matawa Health Co-operative and Awashishishewiigiihiwaywiin (the social services department).

In a statement, Matawa said moving to one location will allow for the expansion and improvement of training and wellness services, increased traditional healing and cultural spaces, improved partnership opportunities, and greater access to greenspace and parkland.

It will cost an undisclosed amount of money, but the statement said capital renovations will be $8 million less expensive than building a new facility.

Matawa is working with senior levels of government to obtain funding.

CEO David-Paul Achneepineskum said Matawa is pleased to be in a position to make use of unused city infrastructure "that will add value, not only for our Matawa members but for the neighbourhood and the city itself."

The renovated building is expected to accommodate trades-training classrooms, accommodations for adult students who come to the city for short-term training, transitional housing units for families at risk of homelessness, and a health services clinic.

Local developer Ahsanul Habib purchased the North Algoma Street building from the City of Thunder Bay in 2017 for $450,000, with the intention of converting it to a 195-bed student residence he called Campuses. 

Renovations were done in just a few months, and Habib planned to use a school bus to transport students to Confederation College and Lakehead University.

However, no students moved in that fall, and in the spring of 2018 the property was put on the market again.

Current River ward Coun. Andrew Foulds told it's always good to see shuttered buildings reopened and put to a good use, and he's particularly pleased that Matawa is the new owner.

He said he had heard periodically from surrounding property-owners expressing concern about the future of Dawson Court. 

Foulds said Matawa has "a proven track record in the community...they are doing great work."

This is the second former city-owned nursing home to be taken over by Matawa.

In 2017, city council granted Grandview Lodge on Lillie Street to the organization, which then transformed it into a high school called the Matawa Learning Centre.




Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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