A location that was once a gathering site for Elders and people in Líídlįį Kúę has been listed as a heritage site in the community.
At Monday’s council meeting, Fort Simpson’s heritage centre – located on 100 Street – was formally deemed a heritage site after council amended a bylaw to include the property.
Doing so ensures the building will have its taxes waived. Martina Norwegian, president of the Fort Simpson Historical Society, said the money saved will go toward tasks that still need to be completed since the building reopening several years ago after significant renovation, and can also help to finance new projects.
“There are so many different things that have to be done still in our community, because we are one of the oldest communities along the Mackenzie River, along the Dehcho,” she said.
“Right now, there’s just so many other pieces that are missing.”
Until now, the village council has voted annually on whether or not to cover the organization’s taxes. Typically, council voted in favour of doing so. Councils in the future have the option to reverse the change if they see fit.
Norwegian said the building was renovated about a decade ago. Most of the building had to be demolished due to “unforeseeable defects,” according to the Fort Simpson Historical Society’s webpage.
“Our original intent was to restore the building that was there but, due to the structural safety of it, we renovated, and we kept the same footprint of the original building,” Norwegian said.
She said the previous building was established in 1911 as a church rectory, making it one of community’s oldest structures.
“It was a significant gathering place for our Elders and people who came from their homesteads around the Dehcho when they came here, to Líídlįį Kúę,” she said.
“Their faith was quite strong back then.”
The building was affected by severe flooding in May but got a helping hand from Can Pro Restorations, who offered to help clean up the damage for free.
Norwegian said the centre has remained closed since the flood because the basement needed to be torn out and a new heater must be installed
She added the Fort Simpson Historical Society is looking for volunteers as the pandemic and flood have “taken a big toll” on the society’s capacity for projects.
“There have just been so many behind-the-scenes people who are helping us keep stuff going,” she said.
“For the village to continue to support us and just do that little thing is wonderful.”
Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio