The grand opening of COINS’ new building was held Oct. 29. From COINS’ Facebook page

New home means bright future for aboriginal service agency

COINS opened its new headquarters on Oct. 29

A group that provides cultural support services and resources for aboriginal people in the West Kootenay/Boundary has a new home.

COINS, the Circle of Indigenous Nations Society, moved into its new office and community space at 1801 Conners Road on Oct. 29.

It’s a big improvement over the small space they’ve been using above Castlegar Community Services since 2013, says COINS executive director Kris Salikin.

“We had two offices with seven to eight staff since 2015,” she says. “Last year our elders advisory council — our board — said ‘stop applying for funding, we have no place to put more people.’”

That’s all changed with the new facility, but it was a bit of whirlwind making the dream of a new home for COINS a reality, says Salikin.

They first spotted the building on the market in February.

“It took a lot of working around, can we afford it? We’re a non-profit society,” she recalled. “So our work was to try to purchase it at the same time to co-ordinate funders who could offer us money to pay for renovations.

“And we were very successful.”

The big supporters for the project were Teck Trail Operations; the Columbia Basin Trust; Columbia Power Corporation; FortisBC; and the Ministry of Child and Family Services.

The building was a bit of a fixer-upper. The basement, which now houses about five offices, a kitchen, and supply area, was nothing but a cement floor when they bought the building at the end of June. Renovations on the 3,200 square-foot space cost about $125,000, and went incredibly smoothly.

“It needed extensive renovations. But our contractor pulled it off. We were in here on Oct. 9,” Salikin says. “And I didn’t grow a grey hair.”

The new building and extra space will allow COINS to apply for new programs, and do more work for the Indigenous community and be more helpful for families looking for support.

The main floor has an open meeting area that allows for larger gatherings and ceremonies, as well as creating rental space that can generate extra income for the society.

COINS now has nine programs with 12 staff people, from infant development programs to family care and mental health and addiction programs and counselling.

But the new building provides more than just space for programming.

“Indigenous people in this area will always feel like they have a place where they belong,” says Salikin. “Our doors are always open, they can come in and just sit, or sit with their drums, or they can invite an elder and that’s a big piece as well.

“When I retire, I hope this building will still be here for generations for Indigenous people to access.”

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COINS executive director Kris Salikin says acquiringt their new office was a whirlwind purchase and renovation, but it went smoothly. Photo: John Boivin

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