WCC begins “Gift a Brick” campaign

“Every single brick has a story,” — Carley Gallant-Jenkins

BRANTFORD — Getting into the giving season, the Woodland Cultural Centre has begun a new initiative called “Gift a Brick” to help refurbish the face of the Mohawk Institute with a goal of replacing 400,000 of the bricks at $5 per brick.

The Mohawk Institute is one of only a handful of residential school buildings left standing in Canada, one of just two in Ontario and the only one that holds guided tours of the space.

As can be seen if inspected, the mortar that holds the exterior bricks in place has begun to wear out and in some spots of the building it has begun to deteriorate. This called for the campaign to begin.

Layla Black, the marketing representative of the WCC, said that the campaign will be on for the holidays to inspire the gift of giving.

“You can buy a brick in the name of someone to preserve in the building,” said Black. “With the Save the Evidence Campaign there is a current goal — all of the masonry work needs to be replaced, so that’s 400,000 bricks.”

“So we thought, ‘let’s chunk it down ‘cause anybody can gift five dollars,’ so what we’re also doing is engaging with schools and businesses,” she said, including that they are also looking for organizations that would like to support the campaign to help sell the bricks.

She explained that in the same way that visitors could walk into a Toys ‘R’ Us or McDonalds and see names taped to the walls on cut-out shapes, such as they do for the Make A Wish Foundation, contributors could see bricks with names on the wall instead.

Save the Evidence Coordinator Carley Gallant-Jenkins said not to worry about the old bricks however, many scrawled with names and memories, as they will be saved during the process.

“What we want is to do re-purpose the original bricks and redo the mortar,” she said. “A lot of the bricks, especially at the back of the building, all tell a story. This is because survivors have actually carved their names into the bricks at different points in time, such as when they were students or when they returned for the first time, or they’ve just re-carved their names multiple times to reclaim the building,” she said.

In an email, Gallant-Jenkins added that the bulk of the work that has to be done on the exterior will involve repointing the brickwork on the main building, the stair towers built in the 1960’s, and the the rear cafeteria building. Additional areas will include repointing foundation walls and replacing missing or damaged bricks. With many areas that are showing structural cracks requiring brick reinforcement and stitching.

The campaign also has a goal set for “Giving Tuesday,” whereby they hope to sell 1000 bricks in one day. This will land on Tuesday, December 3.

If you would like to get involved, you can contact Gallant-Jenkins at ste@woodlandcultural centre.ca or call 519-759-2650 ext. 230.

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