Seshatshiu hopes the new cultural center will be part of a healing process

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Officials are in the early stages of planning a new cultural center for Seshatshiu, which will house Inu artifacts returned to Labrador from around the world.

Jack Penashu, director of social health for Seshatshiu, says while the project’s development is in its early stages, the intention is not only to create a space to preserve the artifacts, but ultimately to create an environment for development.

“It’s going to be a healing process,” Penashu said. “For me it is, because what we’ve lost is coming back. Hopefully, we can store it in a way that’s more acceptable to our families.”

The building will be located on the north side of the community, which locals recognize as the old sawmill on the highway side.

Artifacts similar to this Inu coat are expected to be on display at the Cultural Center at the Labrador Interpretation Center in the North West River. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The community has partnered with Montreal firm Evoque Architecture to complete the project. Shares Penashu’s vision for the center. When asked whether the project’s goal of being a source of healing for the community put more pressure on the firm, Fournier, founding partner of Evoque, said it did the opposite.

“It should be a place that people think belongs to them,” Fournier said. “We talk about healing – a sense of pride is part of the healing. That’s what we want to generate from this building. Those are the feelings we want to create, we want the building to be created as an environment. “

According to Penashu, the center will not only be a storage facility for the returned artifacts, but – perhaps more important – will also teach visitors about Inu culture.

“That’s the whole intention,” said Penashu. “I think this will be an area where we can showcase our uniqueness, our culture, our principles and all these things in terms of our belief in the Inu nation. We want to educate people, we want to push the positive side. Want to bring. Being Inu.”

Alain Fournier, founding partner of Evoque Architecture, says the project will be finished ‘a few years down the road’. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The million-dollar question is when will the dream come true. All parties involved are eager to get the ball rolling, but want to make sure the finished product meets their high standards as well as the community at large.

“In a few years,” said Fournier, laughing. “It’s down the road, but we can feel that there is a real great, positive discussion. We can feel that it’s real.”

audio | ‘Irreplaceable’ audio of dead Inu elders among research material, artifacts to be returned to Labrador

25:08‘Irreplaceable’ audio of dead Inu elders among research material, artifacts to be returned to Labrador

Inu Nation cultural guardian Jodi Ashini and anthropologist Peter Armitage are working to bring decades of stories, documents, recordings and other cultural artifacts back to Labrador.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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