A number of local First Nations are benefiting from recreational funding they recently received from the federal government.
Saulteaux First Nation Chief Kenny Moccasin, who opened his reserve's new youth recreational and cultural centre last week, confirmed a number of area First Nations received $2.2 million in total funding from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) which will be shared among five area reserves: Saulteaux, Sandy Lake, Sweetgrass, Moosomin and Red Pheasant.
"They use their funding in different areas, too, also," he said, adding one community built an outdoor arena. Others also purchased fitness equipment.
"The funding for five bands will be well utilized by people in the communities," Moccasin said, adding some other commmunities asked him for information about the design of Saulteaux's newly built Youth Recreational and Cultural Centre to meet their needs in the future.
Sandy Lake First Nation Chief Bart Meekis said his reserve is using more than a million dollars of its own money to make infrastructure improvements to its existing youth recreational centre, so the federal funding will help defray the costs. The band plans to work on the project this summer.
"Any kind of funding that will come our way that would greatly help," Meekis said. "We appreciate that."
Saulteaux used the federal funding to help with its costs to build and purchase equipment for its new youth recreational and cultural centre that opened March 10.
The entire project, including costs to renovate the reserve's arena, amounted to $700,000. The reserve invested $150,000 of local funds in the project.
In the 2016 federal budget, the government indicated it was investing $76.9 million over two years for Indigenous and northern investments, beginning in 2016–17 to support cultural and recreational infrastructure construction projects on reserves across Canada.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron, who represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, said the INAC funding is greatly needed.
"It's a good investment," Cameron said. "It's an investment into the right place — directly into the lives of our youth. You can't go wrong with investing in our youth. The government should be doing that more consistently. We're thankful. It's a start."
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