by Armand LaPlante
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Pasqua First Nation celebrates sod-turning ceremony. Submitted.

On October 25th, community members joined together on the Pasqua First Nation to break ground at a sod-turning ceremony for a new recreational and cultural centre for youth in the community. The community plans to finish the youth centre on June 30, medical 2017, with a special grand opening ceremony in July, 2017.

It was a very pleasant surprise for Chief and Council: After answering a call for proposals from Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) in summer 2016, Chief Todd Peigan of Pasqua First Nation was notified that the First Nation was successful and would be given $750,000 for the project. Planning and work began immediately as three concepts were done up, and they had finally decided on one.

The community of Pasqua First Nation has always been committed to its youth; the community has a local youth committee who has talked about a youth drop-in centre for some time. “Once we got the news, and got the final draft done up, we went over to the school and showed the kids and they just said ‘wow!’” Fabian Ironeagle, councillor at Pasqua First Nation, tells us. “They’re really looking forward to this project […] it’s a really exciting time for us on Pasqua, everyone’s really excited about this project.”

Much of the existing programming for youth recreational and cultural initiatives will take place in the new building. One of these programs includes a youth drum group that has been in place for five years; the drum group recently sang for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his visit to Fort Qu’Appelle. Essentially, the centre will be a drop-in centre—a safe place for youth to hang out, engage in various programs and activities.

Councillor Ironeagle acknowledges the importance in the timing of this youth centre. Recently, the mental health of First Nations youth has been a big issue, especially since the recent suicides of youth from northern Saskatchewan. “It’s tragic, our condolences go out to those communities,” says Ironeagle.

Pasqua has always understood the importance of its youth and providing opportunities for them. “There’s a boxing club, Tae Kwan Do, the drum group, and of course sports: volleyball, basketball […]” says Ironeagle, “we always make it as easy as possible for them to participate. [The centre] provides a safe, healthy environment for our young people.” Ironeagle continues, “when we see our youth we see our future, [growing] these young people into healthy, strong individuals and when the time comes they can become productive members in our community and in society as a whole.” •

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