Designing environments where family giving and sharing and working with creation is a must, has always been a strength of First Nations communities.
As the times change drastically, Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation is creating environments where all ages can experience activities together right in their own community.
Celebrating the new splash pad was just the tip of the iceberg in the event taking place Oct. 4. Although it was a windy day, elders and children and all ages in between came out to see the finished product.
Health director Ramona Knebush was ecstatic as she explained the two-year process of searching for grants, confirming they met the requirements, applying and then putting the money to action.
Before even going to the beautiful splash pad, Knebush led people to their orchard. An orchard, at Pheasant Rump? Yes, and it is huge. Every plant was put in by hand in an afternoon with great planning and organization. They have different varieties of apple, plumb, pear, cherry trees and Saskatoon bushes.
Along with goose berries and black currants, they planted 200 raspberry bushes and 200 haskap berry bushes giving a total of 502 plants. The amazing above ground irrigation was installed by Preston, who lives right close by. Knebush was extremely happy with his time and effort.
After a grateful prayer and a request for blessing from Joan McArthur, everyone walked back over to continue the ceremony at the splash pad.
Knebush’s eyes sparkled as she dreamed of the finished project, hopefully next year, with a pergola and areas to sit and rest. Walking paths with stationary treadmills and bikes and a very cool rock wall are also a part of the vision. The grants she worked hard on meet the criteria for the community to have these walking paths that connect a food forest, the orchard, a pergola and eventually a community garden.
Knebush assembled everyone around the splash pad as the Chief of Pheasant Rump, in full headdress joined the elders, children and all the community members. Everyone stood in silence while more prayers were offered up with thankful hearts. Chief Ira McArthur shared a few words from his heart to his people. The phrase “…our children, our families, the community across the highway (Kisbey) and everyone in this area will be welcomed as they use this facility…” essentially captured the heartfelt purpose of this addition to their community – relationships. May McArthur cut the ribbon and the children started to play while the adults, watched, took pictures and headed back to a community barbecue.
Knebush was explaining how COVID was not necessarily a curse but could be a blessing as we were forced to slow down and re-evaluate what is most important. “Getting these young people off their devices is not easy, but we need to have fun and interesting things they can do,” she said. Offering opportunities and building relationships is especially important.
With the focus being on wholeness and overall wellness for all ages, Knebush knows that “If we can set the foundation, our young people will build on it.”