Thunderbird House was in the news recently talking about its financial struggles. Its not a situation that is good for the Thunderbird House and of course Indian people in Winnipeg. Thunderbird House is a good place with good intentions. Unfortunately it just does not get the support to keep the doors open.
Architect Douglas Cardinal. The Building has the structure of a Sundance Lodge with each of the Directions incorporated into the House.
Thunderbird House is located on the corner of Main Street and Higgins Avenue in Winnipeg Manitoba. The area had been a very rough part of the City.
Six of the ten of the seedy hotel bars that existed on the Main Street
strip in the mid-’70s are now gone, but the old skid row problems are
still there, and more visible than ever. Decades of publicly-led urban
renewal acting as socioeconomic revanchism has not pushed the problems
of deeply entrenched poverty away; it has spread them around, across all
of Winnipeg’s sprawling downtown.
Thunderbird House is struggling that is for sure. The House recieves no operating monies and relies on proposal driven grant projects (which are few and far between). Rentals are its only stream of revenue to offset costs of operation - staffing, hydro, telephone, water, insurance, mortgage, internet, stock, maintenance.
Despite the heroic efforts of the Director and the Board to keep Thunderbird House doors open, its Crunch time. The operational director can only do so much. The Board just doesn't have the political clout to get an audience with the City or the Province. No one is coming to the Thunderbird Table and saying "let's make it work".
If I was advising the Board I would consider putting Thunderbird House up for sale. It is of course a two million dollar asset ($2,000,000). It has a mortage much less than the value. So either sell it or lose it I say.
Of course I am not an advisor to the Board of Thunderbird House. I am just a no one talking for nothing. I have about as much influence as you in saying "we should sell the Public Safety Building in Winnipeg". I mean its an eye sore and it may be crumbling, I don't know? In any case I have no right to say anything. I could say lets sell the Assiniboine Zoo or the Assiniboine Downs, but what the heck do I know or have to do with anything?
The Thunderbird House should be sold for One Dollar. Yes, One Dollar. Sold to an entity or groups that will keep it alive and keep it as a home for those that seek Native Spiritual and Ceremonial activity. There is no money in Spirituality (unless you are a Church, just kidding, but seriously) to be made. That is one of the limits of the Thuderbird House, it is not a money maker.
Just like anyone I have an opinion that is uninformed. I think a number of Reserves should get together and purchase the Thunderbird House. Develop some programs for the members who live in the City of Winnipeg. After all Winnipeg has the largest number of Indians residing there. The City really hasn't done anything to work with the Aboriginal population in Winnipeg.
So the Reserves can use that building to keep on working with strengthening the idenity and Spirituality of their people. It might be an idea to think about. Reserves like Peguis, Long Plain, Swan Lake, Cross Lake, Nelson House, Rosseau River, Sagkeeng, Little Black River, Rolling River, etc. Imagine what they could accomplish.
So if Thunderbird House is not for sale, let's get the City and Province to get in there and talk about how it can help it operate and serve the largest Aboriginal population in a Canadian city.