New skateboard park planned in northern Manitoba First Nation

The youth in a First Nation in northern Manitoba will soon be grinding rails and dropping in on half-pipes in their own skate park thanks to a new project set to begin this summer.

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation announced this week that it will be installing a 7,000 square foot outdoor public skate park. Construction expected to start at the beginning of July and finish up by mid-August.

Nicholas Campbell, assistant director of education in the community, came up with the idea with his colleagues last summer.

“I just thought it’d be awesome to have a skate park, because they’re super user friendly, easy to maintain, kids just show up and utilize the space,” he said, adding outdoor recreation is limited in the community.

“(There’s) nothing that you can really just show up to without an employee working there. I think that’s the important part of the skate park – you can just show up whenever and utilize it.

He said one of the biggest barriers for youth in remote First Nation communities is the lack of recreational programming or opportunity. He said the skate park will be a welcome and inclusive addition to the community.

To get this project done, Nisichawayasihk has partnered with Manitoba-made company Drop In Skateparks based in Kleefeld, Man.

Co-owner Colton Froese said the company, which designs and builds skate parks across western Canada, often partners with communities to help them apply for grants and raise the money to get a skate park built close to home.

Drop In Skateparks, based in Kleefeld, Man., designs and builds skate parks across western Canada. (Source: Drop In Skateparks/Facebook)

He said they helped build a skate park in Misipawistik Cree Nation last year, which for some in the community, gave them their first ever opportunity to skate.

“A skate park is a place where there’s a lot of opportunities for kids to learn and to grow,” Froese said. “We see evidence of kids who are sharing their equipment and really building each other up and encouraging each other and stuff, and that’s really sweet to see all that happening.”

He said Drop In Skateparks is really excited for their partnership in Nisichawayasihk.

Campbell said the community will be planning a grand opening when the park is complete later this summer. They are also planning a controlled graffiti day for the kids to mark up the park and make it their own.

The total cost of the skatepark project is pegged at $532,000. Campbell said the community did receive funding in partnership with Jordan’s Principle, as well as Indigenous Services Canada.

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is now reaching out to community members over the next two weeks for feedback on the project to determine where it will go in the community. 

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