Cote First Nation held a sod turning ceremony at the future site of a new, community funded rink.

The $15 million structure will include an arena, along with a gym, weight room and walking track.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jared Stevenson, the Cote Rec Board-affiliated councillor. “So many people are proud. We’re a hockey community. We’ve always been known for hockey.”

The community is the home of Olympic hockey trailblazer Bridgette Lacquette.

Yorkton Tribal Council is hoping this new rink can help with the area’s drug addiction issue.

“It’s so prevalent in our three northern first nations of the Yorkton Tribal Council. There’s a huge epidemic when it comes to drug overdoses and drugs and, it’s just if the kids get into drugs, there is no [opportunity]. That opportunity is gone, right out the window,” said Tribal Chief-elect Isabel O’Soup.

The new facility will replace Cote’s aging rink, which was originally built 50 years ago, in 1972. The arena is in need of repairs, but Cote Chief George Cote said much of the parts aren’t manufactured anymore.

“The kids are pretty excited. They’re wondering when it is going to be finished… it builds up their morale and they want to play more hockey,” said Cote.

The facility is 100 per cent community funded, and will be an investment in the future of the indigenous community.

“I can’t wait to see it built. You know, it’s exciting for not only myself, but the kids, the parents, the elders, just everybody in the community — even the surrounding communities are excited for us,” Stevenson said.

The new arena and multi-purpose facility is expected to open in April 2024.

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