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Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig threatened with eviction

Shingwauk Education Trust slaps SKG with eviction over 'deficiences' in roofing, other outstanding issues with Queen Street E. property; Indigenous post-secondary institution now seeking court injunction
The $11.9-million Anishinaabe Discovery Centre, which houses Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig and its programming, officially opened it doors at 1491 Queen Street E. in September 2022.

Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig is currently seeking a court injunction to prevent its landlord from evicting the Indigenous post-secondary institution from the Anishinaabe Discovery Centre.  

The landlord in the legal dispute, Shingwauk Education Trust — the entity responsible for much of the land surrounding the former site of Shingwauk Indian Residential School — initially slapped Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig with an eviction notice in December 2022 to vacate the premises, located at 1491 Queen Street E., on or before March 2 after allegedly allowing the building to fall into a state of disrepair, according to a release issued by Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig.    

During an injunction hearing held in Sault Ste. Marie Tuesday, the court heard that a leaking roof and issues with the building’s HVAC system — and who's responsible for repairs — are at the root of the landlord-tenant dispute, in addition to whether or not Shingwauk Education Trust can terminate the lease over the leaking roof and other maintenance-related concerns.   

Garden River First Nation Chief and Shingwauk Education Trust President Andy Rickard told SooToday Tuesday that the dispute involves the “technical interpretation” of the lease signed between the tenant and landlord which allows Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig to offer academic courses at the $11.9-million Anishinaabe Discovery Centre, which officially opened its doors across the street from Algoma University in the fall of last year. 

“We don’t intend to displace any of the Algoma [University] students who are affected by this dispute,” he said. “I think that’s what more of the basis is, the lease itself and some of the things that we feel, as a board, weren’t upheld in relation to the upkeep and maintenance and some of those other additional things that we’ve been discussing with them.”

Rickard says the education trust began noticing “deficiencies” in the building within the past year and a half. 

“The board has recognized that if we didn’t mitigate or step in here, we’d have a brand new building with many challenges,” he said.

Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig has alleged its landlord gave assurances the building's HVAC system, plumbing and electrical systems were all in working order, but the school says that was not the case. It also alleged that the post-secondary institution has been in communication with Shingwauk Education Trust since November 2020 “to try and get assistance to fix the building.” 

“There’s many sides to that. We feel that everything was in working condition,” said Rickard. “In our agreement, what was signed upon was that SKG would be responsible for ensuring that these things were taken care of, so that’s how that relationship worked.”    

The matter has been adjourned until March 16 in order to allow Shingwauk Education Trust time to retain legal counsel, with Superior Court Justice Michael Varpio instructing the education trust to not evict its tenant prior to the injunction hearing. 

Varpio also suggested both parties get together in an effort to "fix this issue" in the meantime. 

Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig has offered to speak with SooToday, but was not immediately available for comment.  

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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday in Sault Ste. Marie
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