Aamjiwnaang Chief Chris Plain says the groundbreaking for a $4.6 million retrofit to the First Nation's existing community centre is the highlight of his political career.
The new building, which he first envisioned in 2006, will have about 50 per cent more space than the existing building and will be geared to the youth of the community.
It will include several amenities, such as a youth drop-in centre, music studio, fitness centre, library, splash pad and skateboard park.
The chief says the multi-purpose facility will incorporate the four cornerstones of education, culture, health and recreation
"Investing in the future of our children is critical at this time," Plain said.
"We’re trying to promote a more healthy lifestyle than what we are seeing right now in our community," he added.
He says Aamjiwnnang mirrors the national statistics for First Nation communities with 40 per cent of its population of 2,100 people under the age of 25.
Plain says the community will be responsible for $2.7 million of the total cost, while the two senior levels of government have pitched in $950,000 each.
Plain has no concerns the community will be able to raise its share of the project. In fact, he says, the job is already done.
"We have the money," he said confidently.
The chief says First Nation casino revenue and solid business practices by the administration has allowed the money to be available.
MP Pat Davidson, MPP Bob Bailey, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, and Sarnia Police Chief Phil Nelson attended the ceremony on Friday morning.
Construction will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the end of March 2011.
Story and Photo by BARRY WRIGHT