Woodland Cultural Centre (WCC) in Brantford, Ont. has reached the fundraising goal of $23.5 million for its “Save the Evidence” campaign to restore the Mohawk Institute Residential School, one of the last residential schools standing in Canada.
The WCC is a philanthropic organization dedicated to informing, educating and promoting Indigenous culture, history, language and arts. Since 2015 it has worked to support the Mohawk Institute Residential School in its fundraising efforts, which will allow the organization to continue working towards the completion of the Save the Evidence restoration project.
In addition to the capital costs of the restoration, WCC will leverage the funds raised to travel throughout the communities it supports to collect, record and preserve stories of survivors and generational survivors.
“Protecting oral histories are integral to the campaign and will encourage the children of future generations to hear stories told by Survivors, who as children themselves, endured traumatic conditions and experiences,” said WCC executive director Janis Monture in a media release.
The campaign was supported by Six Nations Elected Council, the City of Brantford, SC Johnson, Ontario’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Ontario’s The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and the federal and provincial governments’ Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
Just over $1 million was also received from private donations. All continuing donations will help the WCC reach its target goal of completing the project.
The Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School operated in Brantford from 1828 to 1970. It served as a boarding school for First Nations children from Six Nations and other communities throughout Ontario and Quebec. It served as a key tool in the effort to assimilate First Nations children into European Christian society and sever the continuity of culture from parent to child.
WCC was established in October 1972 under the direction of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians upon the closure of the Mohawk Institute Residential School. It has more than 35,000 artifacts in its museum collection, making it one of the largest facilities in Canada managed and administered by First Nations.
It’s hoped that the Mohawk Institute Residential School will reopen in late 2024.
WCC will also launch a new capital fundraising campaign called “Acknowledging Our Story” for a new cultural centre. The campaign will be led by a committee with members that include Ava Hill, Ron Jamieson, Kathleen Wynne and honorary chair Robbie Robertson.
The committee is looking towards a formal launch in October to raise $65 million for the development of a “centre of excellence” and state-of-the-art cultural hub.