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There's still some fundraising to go, but ground was broken today on the Winnipeg Art Gallery's new Inuit Art Centre.

Several dignitaries spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony on site this morning. MKO Grand Chief Sheila North said she had good and mixed feelings being there. She said it was just the beginning.

"Art is a beautiful way to introduce reconciliation and that era of reconciliation. I know that it's a tremendous effort and it has been a tremendous journey to get to that part, including on the donors that are here and everyone that cares about the art and cares about reconciliation," said North.

North said there hasn't yet been the full acknowledgement of how much Indigenous peoples have contributed to Canada, but she said we will get there some day.

The Inuit Art Centre, set to open in 2020, will be the largest single gallery space in the world devoted to Inuit art, culture, and history.

Premier Brian Pallister today offered up to an extra $5-million of provincial funding for the Winnipeg Art Gallery's Inuit Art Centre, on top of $10-million dollars previously committed. He said this project ranked among the highest of all projects the province has been reviewing for value-for-money. He said the province now has a mechanism for value-for-money analysis, which he said takes the politics out of funding decisions.

He was asked what about this project made it worth further investment.wag2

"Attracting tourism is one component obviously. The payback in terms of tax returned to the province is another factor, and so that is a calculation that varies depending on projects because the construction costs and capital expenditures vary. Job creation is another factor, and there are a number of others as well," Pallister told reporters.

Like the $10-million pledged before, the provincial money comes at a ratio of $1 for every $2 raised privately.

$15-million is what the previous NDP government had pledged for the project. All three levels of government have contributed to the centre, along with private sector support.

The centre is designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture with Manitoba's Cibinel Architecture Ltd. The centre will be 40,000 square feet and four storeys, and will be connected to the main WAG building by bridges on all levels.

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