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UNFC officially opens new facilities

By Randy Thoms Sep 27, 2023 | 3:18 PM

UNFC's main office on Mowatt Ave. in Fort Frances, September 25, 2023. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

The United Native Friendship Centre has finally officially opened its new facilities.

A ceremony last week marked the opening of its new offices on Mowatt Avenue and childcare centre on McIrvine Road.

The pandemic prevented an event until now.

The UNFC moved into what was a former mill office and hotel.

Executive Director Sheila McMahon says it fulfills a long-time goal.

“It’s always been a vision for a number of years to put all of our programs under one facility, and we were able to do that when we purchased this building,” says McMahon.

McMahan says they now offer 26 programs with a staff of 50.

Abinoojii Gamig is UNFC’s childcare centre.

It was opened about a year ago and provides unique, culturally-based programming for children who attend.

“It took us a long time to get the childcare up and running through COVID and, because of that, we couldn’t have our Head Start program. We have 24 spaces for preschool, but because of COVID, we couldn’t have the 24. So now we’re getting back to that, and the kids are learning the language, so it’s all based on culture,” says McMahon.

“We have our toddler program that we’re full, and we just opened up our infant program.”

McMahon says they are trying to hire more early childhood educators allowing them to accept more children.

She notes there is already a huge waitlist of parents hoping to use the service.