After nearly two years of disruptions due to the pandemic, the Kátł’odeeche First Nation has finally been able to host a grand opening for its long-awaited recreation centre.

On Sept. 18, a number of residents gathered for an afternoon of celebration and a ribbon cutting by local youth Kimberly Martel and Calliegh Sabourin Yakinneah, declaring the new facility open.

Acting CEO Roy Fabian presided over the event, which featured drummers and Elders, while RCMP volunteers assisted in organizing the day and provided food.

Brittany Gardiner, Recreation Coordinator for the K’atl’odeeche First Nation described the grand opening as the culmination of years of effort by residents, KFN staff and the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA),.

She called the youth centre, which currently boasts air hockey tables, pool tables and lounge areas — “amazing”.

The centre is conveniently located across from the Chief Sunrise Education Centre. Gardiner said she wants it to be “a safe, clean environment,” where children and youth can access services and supports to thrive, belong and build community.

A number of services and programs will be available including cultural cooking with youth and Elders. Gardiner added, “We are trying to get sports on the go and set up to (accommodate) the children’s needs.

We will also be adding computers for the youth to do homework, or to make resumes to apply for jobs.”

When construction on the new facility began last year, it was in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which “slowed the process down,” said Gardiner. “But now that it’s finished, we are finally able to let the children in to explore.”

The new facility still needs a name, she said, and as it’s a place for youth, Gardiner said the kids in the community will participate in naming it.

Gardiner, who is new to her role with the Kátł’odeeche First Nation, moved to the area in June before “falling in love” with its natural beauty and welcoming people.

“It has been an amazing experience working for the Kátł’odeeche community,” she said. “I’m new to the culture but I’m all about new learning experiences that are brought to me. Seeing how the Elders keep the culture alive and bring the children and youth into it has been breathtaking.”

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