Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, unveiled its new interpretive centre on Sunday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by a supermodel, her Major League Baseball star husband and a titan of the Canadian garment industry.

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Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, unveiled its new interpretive centre on Sunday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by a supermodel, her Major League Baseball star husband and a titan of the Canadian garment industry.

The goal of the landmark facility, created by Polar Bears International (PBI), a non-profit conservation group, is to educate visitors about polar bears and the urgent need to take action on climate change.

Canada Goose</p><p>Kate Upton (left), a Polar Bears International ambassador, and Dani Reiss, president and CEO of Canada Goose, helped celebrate the grand opening of the new Polar Bears International House in Churchill on Sunday.</p>

Canada Goose

Kate Upton (left), a Polar Bears International ambassador, and Dani Reiss, president and CEO of Canada Goose, helped celebrate the grand opening of the new Polar Bears International House in Churchill on Sunday.

The 3,000-square-foot building includes interpretation of polar bear research, a place to host visiting scientists and educators, broadcast venues for media crews and a gathering place for the local community. A second centre, slightly bigger, is to be completed by the end of the year.

Located on one of Churchill’s main streets, the centre was made possible by lead donor Dani Reiss — president and chief executive officer of Canada Goose. His family foundation donated $1 million, half of the building budget, to kick start the project in 2018.

"What affects polar bears, affects us all," Reiss said in a statement. "With the opening of the Polar Bears International House, not only will PBI’s important research, advocacy and education be able to reach so many more people around the world, but they’ve also created a beautiful home for their team and the community of Churchill."

Churchill Mayor Mike Spence said the donation means a lot.

"This is a long-term investment," he said. "It’s all about the bears and we need to make sure they stay in existence."

Adding a touch of glamour to the opening ceremony were supermodel and PBI ambassador Kate Upton and her husband, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander. This comes less than a week after Verlander’s Astros lost Game 7 of the World Series against the Washington Nationals. 

Krista Wright, executive director of PBI, said she is beyond ecstatic at how everything has gone so far. She said the appearance of these celebrities will attract others to come to Churchill in the future.

"We hope to reach every visitor," she said. "We are happy to have Kate lend us a hand and spread the message."

Wright said more than 1,300 people have gone through the new facility since its soft opening on Oct. 5.

The opening coincides with polar bear week. For more information and to view polar bear cams, go to polarbearsinternational.org.

city.desk@freepress.mb.ca