Indigenous learning centre says it's being evicted by UCP government
EDMONTON -- The Nechi Institute, an Indigenous learning centre in Alberta, says it is in crisis mode after being handed an eviction notice by the UCP government.
“On Wednesday we received a registered letter from Alberta Infrastructure telling us we've been evicted from the premises and we have to vacate before March 31st 2020,” said Nechi Institute CEO Marilyn Buffalo.
Alberta's Minister of Indigenous Relations, Rick Wilson, tweeted about the situation, saying the institute had been given four months to relocate.
"This government's priority is to expand access to addiction treatment for all Albertans, especially Indigenous Albertans who are dying at a rate 4 times faster than non-Indigenous in the province," Wilson wrote. "We value the training that the Nechi Institute provides to Indigenous students but also recognize that the space currently occupied is urgently needed for the delivery of addiction treatment to Indigenous people."
Buffalo said that while the property is owned by the province, the eviction breaks a long-time agreement.
“That building was set aside in 1984 by a previous premier, that we would be treated the same, the same tenants. We were supposed to be working in partnership and that's not happening today, not by what we just experienced."
Wilson said more information would be released at an announcement at Poundmaker's Lodge Wednesday.
Buffalo is in Ottawa this week for the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly.
She’s meeting with members of the Alberta Chiefs caucus to discuss a strategy to convince Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to revoke the decision, and invite him to sit down with the Nechi Institute board and treaty leaders to find a better resolution.
The Nechi Institute has been in operation for 45 years and offers accredited programs that are transferable at many university and colleges.
It also provides counselling and therapeutic training services, specializing in helping people with addictions, family violence and prescription drug abuse.
“We are the education arm of treatment. We empower the First Nations communities by training and certifying their trainers that work in the field of addiction therapy,” said Buffalo.
The province has said it intends on helping the Nechi institute relocate, but Buffalo said they have not heard from any government officials and have no immediate options for relocating.