Impacts of Recreation Framework Funding on Northern Saskatchewan

Written by Ryan Karakochuk, Program Manager, Northern Sport Culture and Recreation District. 

In 2021-2022, the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association's (SPRA) Framework in Action Grant allowed the Northern Sport Culture and Recreation District (NSCRD) to support Northern communities in many recreational and facility activities and development. The application of this Grant led to partnerships with local municipalities and First Nation Bands, new certifications and new individuals taking part in the programming to be able to be hired or grow their profession in the facility maintenance field. 

SPRA programs such as the Arena Operators Course, Ball Diamond Maintenance, and the Facility Maintenance modules allowed us to support northern communities' requests for more facility development and leadership. We were able to reach good numbers in each of the program and build networks, partnerships and plans to move each program forward in 2022-23. We were also able to host each of the programs throughout our geographic area to reach as many communities as possible. Through these programs, we saw 33 participants take part in all three workshops from over 22 different communities.

One program I would like to highlight is the Arena Operators Course hosted in Creighton in the fall of 2021. For the first time, northerners were able to see the benefits and challenges of putting in ice in early September. Two northern communities were depending on this course in order to put ice in their own community and both successfully achieved this. We also saw communities from other Districts which was great because we were the only District putting this on to support all communities in the province that wanted to take the course. One of the communities took their training one step further and went to the Arena Operators Level 2 course, in which we supported registration. All in all, we saw 10 participants from six different communities. 

“It was great to be able to travel to Creighton for the first time and learn how to put in ice for my community in Patuanak. This will allow us to put in ice for years to come.” - Marc Laliberte, Patuanak Recreation

NSCRD is always looking to support more facility development and the usage of our facilities in northern communities. Putting on these courses and certifications allows individuals to be trained for employment, but it also gives the community a sense of pride in their greenspaces and facilities, so they can continue to provide youth with sport, recreation programming. This also reduces barriers such as travel costs. Being able to host these types of events in their facility allows them to bring in more participants from their community and the surrounding area, due to a reduced distance and the ability to stay within the north.

This funding has been crucially impactful on the development of our facilities, employment opportunities and supportive environments. It has also connected people to recreation, and helped communities be more accountable and efficient at running their facilities. Many facilities in the North aren’t running due to a lack of workers that have the knowledge to keep them maintained and up to code. In past year, we have seen key recreation programs like these allow communities run their arenas in the winter and ball diamonds in the summer for the enjoyment of everyone.