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Gitga’at First Nation celebrates grand opening of new building in Prince Rupert

Paul Paterson, CEO of the Gitga’at Development Corporation, stands in the 10,000 square foot office building purchased on be the Development Corporation.

On Saturday evening the two-story building at 634 Third Ave West in Prince Rupert was packed with members of the Gitga’at First Nation. The Gitga’at were celebrating the grand opening of their recently acquired office building in Prince Rupert.

The office building is the first private property purchase by the Gitga’at First Nation.

Nearly two-thirds of Gitga’at members live in and near Prince Rupert and previously had to make the long journey to Txalgiu (Hartley Bay) to access the economic development, skills training, and cultural stewardship services offered by the band council. Purchase and development of the new building allows those members to walk just a few blocks to what will be the new home of the Gitga’at First Nation’s Development Corporation, Treaty Office, and Employment and Training Centre, and an elder’s centre. The building will also serve as a Prince Rupert meeting space for the Nation’s Chief and Council as much of their business involves connection with the city and the region.

The space is a sprawling 10,000 square foot building and is the first private property purchase the Gitga’at First Nation have made. “We’ve been here for thousands of years and aren’t going anywhere,” Gitga’at Councillor Cameron Hill noted. “This building allows us to have a place that is a good, solid real estate investment.”

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain welcomed the investment, pointing out that the purchase of the building would play an important role in revitalizing the downtown core.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this building can do for the community.

Gitga’at Councillor Cameron Hill speaks at the grand opening of the new office building in Prince Rupert.

But the building is more than just an investment for the Gitga’at First Nation; it is a hub for the community. Councillor Hill noted that amidst the current housing crisis in the region, purchase of the building is especially important for Gitga’at elders. The Nation intends to develop an elder’s centre in the lower floor of the building. “I’m looking forward to seeing what this building can do for the community,” said Hill.

Chief Councillor Arnold Clifton echoed this sentiment. “It’s our hope that the resource space will be elder-focused, elder-managed and will be a complete realization of their hopes for a place of their own in Prince Rupert,”said Clifton.

Everyone who spoke at the event took the time to thank CEO of the Gitga’at Development Corporation, Paul Paterson, for his time and energy in securing the building.

Paterson expressed his hopes for the future of the building: “It’s my hope that the building will become a symbol of Gitga’at First Nation’s presence and participation in the region’s economy. The building will also serve as a centre point in providing direct support to the ambitions of the Gitga’at by providing a place for training and access to regional employment opportunities. Over the few months we also hope to have an Elder’s Resource Centre in place that will be a place of connection specifically for Elders, and designed and run by the Elders.”

The Gitga’at Development Corporation will manage the building, renovate and run the existing laundromat business, and lease space to other businesses, thus allowing the Corporation to earn revenue from the space.

Coast Funds is proud to have worked closely with Gitga’at Development Corporation and contributing $370,000 in economic development funding towards the acquisition.

Chief Councillor Arnold Clifton addresses the crowd at the grand opening of Gitga’at Development Corporation’s new office building in Prince Rupert.