Former U.S. embassy in Ottawa to be dedicated to First Nations, Metis, Inuit

100 Wellington
The building at 100 Wellington St. once housed the American embassy before it moved to a larger location on Sussex Drive in 1999. (Photo by Haley Ritchie / Metro)

A government source says the former U.S. embassy across from Parliament Hill is set to become a space dedicated to First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.

The federal government is expected to release more details on plans for the building at 100 Wellington St. in the coming weeks.

The source says consultations will take place with indigenous communities to determine how the space will be used.

The building was built in the 1930s, acquired from the U.S. government in 1997, and has remained vacant since 1998.

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien approved a vision to turn it into a national portrait gallery, but those plans were scuttled by the Conservative government.

In 2012, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson proposed turning the prominent property into “Canada House,” a showcase for the country’s achievements akin to the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

More recently, local Liberal MP Catherine McKenna said she wanted a plan for the prominent property in place by this year.

“This is a prime location. It’s been sitting empty for so long,” she said in 2015.

Last summer, Canadians were asked to share their views on how to best use the building.

The survey found the widest appeal for Canada House, while a gallery for artwork of national significance received significant support from respondents 55 or older.