If all goes well, the Hay River Reserve will be getting an indoor rink with natural ice sometime around the end of the year.
That’s the hope of Scotty Edgerton, the CEO of K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN), who is working to see the project create the first covered rink on the reserve.
The First Nation has already bought a steel building and is now looking for a contractor to erect it.
“This is an opportunity for the band over here to have an activity arena,” Edgerton said, adding it would mean youngsters would no longer have to play various games in the Chief Lamalice Complex, which is not designed for that kind of activity.
“What it will do is it will give one more avenue for our young people,” he said. “Right now, we’re having a lot of issues with young people and they can’t get over to the other side (to Hay River) because there’s not a lot of opportunity for kids to cross over. They don’t have their own driver’s licences and so on.”
Edgerton noted only a few young people from the reserve participate in organized hockey or figure skating in the town of Hay River.
“The band here has decided that it should be independent, and by being independent it gains the pride of the community,” he explained. “That’s where this is going.”
The CEO believes the rink, once constructed, will become an important asset for the reserve’s school, the Chief Sunrise Education Centre.
The exact location for the rink has not been determined, but it will likely be constructed in a large field next to the school or across the road next to the Chief Lamalice Complex.
Christina Steen, the principal of Chief Sunrise Education Centre, is also looking forward to the rink being constructed.
“I hope that it will be finished by this winter,” Steen said. “A large focus this year, in particular, is on physical fitness because we do find that our kids are not in the shape that we would hope that they would be. Kids are living a different lifestyle than perhaps maybe when we grew up. They’re not outside as much. They’re not running around. They spend more time in front of the TV and playing games.”
She said it would be good to have a rink right next to the school to use as part of its phys-ed and after-school programs.
The principal added not many children on the reserve participate in organized sports.
Edgerton said the building could also be used in the summer for things such as bike rodeos and for activities for adults.
“I would like to see it more to do with indoor quality items. By quality, meaning they might have foot races in there. It might be where people go to walk to lose some weight,” she said. “It could be like a gym.”
Presently, the steel frame of the rink is lying next to the Chief Lamalice Complex.
KFN advertised in early October with a request for proposals to erect the 36-metre by 21-metre building.
Edgerton said there were a couple of enquiries, but only one company expressed interest in doing the work, but the band council wants at least two price estimates.
“I think that’s only fair,” he said, adding the band wants to be responsible with spending on the project, which is being supported with infrastructure funding from the federal government.
As of last week, no arrangements had been made to erect the building, but Edgerton is hopeful and confident it will be done soon.
“I want it to be done,” he said, adding he hopes construction can begin in November and the rink opened by the end of the year.
The building itself cost about $125,000 and construction costs are expected to be the same.
Edgerton said a wooden attachment – for washrooms and a lobby – will also be built at an estimated cost of $65,000.
Plastic will initially cover the rink area and will be flooded with water, although a concrete floor may be built in the future.
Edgerton, said the building should be good for more than 20 years, addin rink may someday get artificial ice.
— Paul Bickford