Reserve pushes for online support

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Sharon Pekok, the director of recreation with K'atlodeeche First Nation, displays the posters she has been distributing to spread the word about the band's entry into an online competition to seek more funding to build an arena on the Hay River Reserve.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Sharon Pekok, the director of recreation with K’atlodeeche First Nation, displays the posters she has been distributing to spread the word about the band’s entry into an online competition to seek more funding to build an arena on the Hay River Reserve.

K’atlodeeche First Nation has entered a national competition to try to win more funding to help build an arena on the Hay River Reserve.

The competition involves projects from across Canada seeking to obtain online votes and possibly money from the Aviva Community Fund, which was created seven years ago by the Aviva Canada insurance company.

“I’ve heard of the program before and I was trying to think of ways that it could be used and then the arena came up,” said Sharon Pekok, the director of recreation for the First Nation. “And even though we did get a certain amount of funding from different agencies, we’re still short of funding.”

Pekok has entered the section of the competition that will award up to $50,000.

She said the arena project fell under the category of community health which includes health, sports, active living and play.

The online voting began on Oct. 11 and will end Oct. 28. Each registered participant can vote up to 18 times.

There are two funding levels – $50,000 and $100,000 – and 15 projects from each level will move on to the next stage of the competition, meaning 30 in all.

For each funding level, there will be five projects moving on from each of three categories – community resilience, community health and community development.

“I’m hoping it’s possible,” said Pekok of the First Nation’s chances of surviving the online vote.

That’s despite the fact that the Hay River Reserve only has about 300 people and is up against much larger communities.

“I’m hoping we can get enough interest out there from the different and various groups, the different communities, people in general from the Northwest Territories, maybe even in other provinces,” said Pekok.

She said people are already supporting the project.

“I check it every once in a while so people are actually voting,” she said. “So that’s good.”

As of Oct. 16, the First Nation’s arena project had collected 946 votes.

“I’m just hoping people can help us out by getting online and voting, and just to pass the word on to whoever can help us,” said Pekok. “Every little bit will help.”

The First Nation’s bid to obtain the funding is being backed by Hay River’s Norland Insurance Agencies Ltd., a broker for Aviva Canada.

“We’re more than happy to support the project,” said Mark Harris, the president of Norland Insurance Agencies.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with K’atlodeeche First Nation over the years.”

Harris added the arena project would benefit both the Hay River Reserve and the town.

Following the online voting, the 30 projects that survive will become finalists, and will be evaluated by a panel of judges to determine the winning ideas.

The winners will be announced Dec. 6.

Pekok said an arena would be beneficial to the Hay River Reserve, noting it only has the Chief Lamalice Complex and a small gym at Chief Sunrise Education Centre.

“We don’t really have any sporting facilities,” she said. “So for me it would be beneficial to the residents of the reserve to have a facility like this.”

Pekok said an arena on the reserve would also be good for the town of Hay River, because it would offer a second ice surface once the Don Stewart Recreation Centre is rebuilt and alleviate some of the demand for ice time.

“I think we need more than one arena in this area,” she said.

Pekok said an arena on the reserve could also be used in the summers for things like floor hockey and basketball.

Overall, the arena project on the reserve requires between $2.6 million and $3.1 million, depending on which version of an arena KFN decides to build.

As of this fall, the First Nation had about $1.6 million for the project, and was continuing to seek other funding.

– Paul Bickford