Celebrating a new gathering place in Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation
June 18, 2018
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
By Melanie Ferris
On June 11, 2018, Grand Chief Arlen Dumas travelled to Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation in southwest Manitoba to celebrate the grand opening of the First Nation’s Community Cultural Centre. The event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a grand entry, speeches, entertainment, lunch, dancing, live music, and more.
Following a five-hour drive from Winnipeg, the Grand Chief arrived at the community centre just as things were about to start. The community is nestled amongst rolling hills close to the border of Saskatchewan. It can be difficult to locate if it’s your first time going there. The Grand Chief received directions from local residents to help him find his wa
“My immediate observation of Tootinaowaziibeeng is just how warm and welcoming it felt,” Grand Chief Dumas stated. “We got a little bit lost and as soon as we met somebody to show us directions, they were very warm and welcoming and joking around and they sent us in the right direction. I really liked that.”
Dignitaries, community members, government officials, and police officers turned up for this exciting and momentous event. An Elder from the community cut the ribbon for the
new centre. The dignitaries, Elders, and dancers then took part in a beautiful grand entry. Several drum groups attended the event and provided amazing music for the opening.
“The community centre ends up becoming a focal point for the community,” explained Grand Chief Dumas. “We have to remember that traditionally and culturally we are people who like to gather, who like to share information and talk.”
Until the opening of the Community Cultural Centre, funerals were held in the First Nation’s school gym. Chief Barry McKay had tears in his eyes as he described the impact that this had on young people in his community. The new centre will improve the children’s emotional well-being as they will no longer need to have funerals taking place in the school.
“It was very important that we were able to be there and be a part of that,” said Grand Chief Dumas. “It’s a genesis; it’s a growing of a new facility. It’s a very integral part of the community.”
Tootinaowaziibeeng citizens were welcoming to the variety of guests who came out to the opening of the Community Cultural Centre. “I was very appreciative of the people of Tootinaowaziibeeng, of the Chief and Council. I was very pleased with their hospitality and how comfortable they made all of us feel and how welcoming they were,” said Grand Chief Dumas.
The Grand Chief plans to visit many First Nations in Manitoba this summer. He explained why this is important to him:
It’s important to be a part of the community and to be accessible. The majority of our work is in boardrooms and dealing with government officials but it’s nice to get a refreshing look at the grassroots level and try to reconnect with the communities and be a part of these events. It works as a reminder of what it is we are trying to do as leaders and as Chiefs to advocate and better the status quo of our First Nations.
Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation hosts a mini pow wow on Thursday, July 5, 2018. Grand entry is at 1 p.m. For more information, contact Jessica Ironstand Nelson at the Tootinaowaziibeeng Band Office at 204.546.3334.
Visit our Facebook page to see our photo album from this event.