With site preparation work well underway, Couchiching First Nation finally will have its own pow-wow grounds by next June.
Chief Chuck McPherson said Thursday the new pow-wow grounds—being developed on the road to the Heron Landing golf course, just west of Frog Creek Road—have been a long time coming.
“It’s something that the vast majority of the community had requested that we take a look into—reviving our culture—so we’re trying to do that,” he remarked.
“We’ve been using the grounds over on Agency 1 property at the Nanicost building forever, so we just thought it was time we take a look at developing our own, with enhanced facilities,” Chief McPherson added.
“So that’s what we did.”
The project contractor is Richard Veldhuisen, the same one who built the impressive pow-wow grounds at Naicatchewenin FN and Rainy River First Nations.
The new pow-wow grounds at Couchiching will include amenities like washrooms, change rooms, kitchen facilities, showers, the dancing area itself, enclosed bleachers, and camping grounds.
“It’s going to mirror Rainy River’s; it’ll be along the same lines,” noted Chief McPherson.
“It’s going to meet all the requirements for people that attend pow-wows,” he stressed. “It’s going to be a state-of-the-art, if you will, pow-wow ground.
“I think it will attract more people who do the pow-wow circuit because we’ll be able to accommodate some campers and so forth,” the chief continued.
“A huge parking lot, the arbour [drumming and dancing area] itself, and all the amenities that contemporary pow-wow grounds have right now.
“Hopefully, we will attract lots, and it will have spin-off effects to bring people in spending money,” Chief McPherson said.
Even in recent years when Couchiching has hosted its pow-wow at Nanicost, the chief noted the event draws many dancers and spectators.
“Seven to eight hundred people at a time is not uncommon, and as I say, we’d like to expand on that,” he remarked.
Chief McPherson noted each community has a traditional date to hold its pow-wows. Couchiching’s is in June, and he’s confident the new grounds will be ready by then.
He said Veldhuisen told him he plans on working right through the winter until it’s done.
“There’s kitchen facilities going to be established there, washrooms, change rooms, the arbour itself, the seating facilities, water and sewer installation, the campgrounds.
“It’s going to take some time, but he assures us it will be ready for our pow-wow next year.”
Chief McPherson also said Veldhuisen has committed to employing qualified workers from Couchiching to be involved in the building of the new facility.
“So it’s going to have a positive effect from all aspects,” he lauded.