The Dene Tha’ First Nation is located in a remote part of northern Alberta but thanks to a partnership with the RCMP and others, Indigenous children from that community can now enjoy an ice rink, an amenity children in other parts of Canada enjoy throughout the cold winter months.
The RCMP said young people in the Chateh, Alta., area tied up their skates to use their brand new public rink on Monday, thanks to a partnership between the Mounties and the Dene Tha’ First Nation Recreation and Cultural Society.
“A first of its kind in the community, the rink will facilitate sports year round thanks to contributions from the Rink of Dreams Society, Sports Central, RCMP Foundation, Tolko Industries and funding from Jordan’s Principle,” police said in a news release.
Before this rink opened to the public, the RCMP said the nearest recreation centre that could be accessed by the 300 young people in the Chateh area was located in Rainbow Lake, about 45 minutes away.
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of rinks.
“Detachment Commander Sgt. Gord Hughes and Dene Tha’ Council members recognized a need for a space in their community where local youth could enjoy safe physical activity, relieve stress, engage with other members of the community and build an open and positive relationship with the RCMP,” police said.
View photos of the rink in the gallery below:
Hughes and the Dene Tha’ First Nation Recreation and Cultural Society were provided with more than $150,000 in funding through Jordan’s Principle grants.
“Jordan’s Principle is a commitment to First Nations children to ensure they get the products, services and support they need, when they need them,” the RCMP said.
While the rink’s construction was completed in November, a “hockey-tape cutting ceremony” took place on Monday morning, which was followed by a hockey game.
“Ensuring the wellbeing of a community and of its youth is fundamental to a healthy community,” Hughes said. “By building the Heek’iicho Mieh (Bison Pond), we want to facilitate wellness across the spectrum — physical, mental, emotional and social.
“We want this space to be a rink, an arena and a sanctuary for Chateh youth.”
Chateh is located about 850 kilometres north of Edmonton.