By Melanie Ferris
On June 1, 2018, Grand Chief Arlen Dumas attended the grand opening of the community hall at Poplar River First Nation.
Poplar River’s new community centre
Located about 400 kilometres north of Winnipeg on the shores of beautiful Lake Winnipeg, Poplar River is a community with approximately 1100 citizens living on reserve. There is no all-weather road into the community, so you either need to fly or take a boat to get into Poplar River in the spring, summer and fall months.
“Poplar River is a beautiful community,” said the Grand Chief. “It’s actually quite picture-esque. I’m glad the weather was nice for the day we were there. The community is surrounded by water all over the place. There is almost like a fork of two or three different water systems. I was joking with some of the locals that were showing me around that it’s like the Venice of the North. There was a time when those roads didn’t exist so people would travel back and forth on boats and skiffs. Poplar River is a beautiful place.”
Many of the community members came out to enjoy the opening of the new community centre, which is being dedicated to all former Chiefs of Poplar River. Young and old citizens were present to hear speeches and stories from local Elders James Mitchell, Albert Bittern, and Abel Bruce as well as enjoy a performance by the Poplar Steppers. The festivities ended with a delicious feast prepared by community members.
Grand Chief Dumas with Poplar Steppers Harlan Michelle, Ashton Bouchie, and Clinton Franklin
Chief Vera Mitchell invited Grand Chief Dumas to attend the opening.
“Community centres and facilities like this are very instrumental and central to communities so I was glad that they had invited me to go,” Grand Chief Dumas explained. “The fact that the community centre is being dedicated to all of their leadership and that they are going to identify and commemorate a wall highlighting all of their leadership over the past hundred years is pretty significant. I also think it’s pretty fitting that as the Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs that I was able to be a part of that.”
The Grand Chief was proud to present the people of Poplar River with a star blanket on behalf of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Grand Chief Dumas shared, “The blanket is very ceremonial and a very important, customary gift that we give to each other. That blanket with the embroidered headdress is significant of our role in Manitoba as Chiefs. It symbolizes the leadership and the support that we have with our communities.”