NELSON HOUSE, MANITOBA — After an entire year of on-again, off-again community lockdown, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation has created Northern Canada’s longest skating trail to raise spirits.

“We weren’t able to leave our community at all for quite a few months there, and that takes its toll,” says NCN Parks & Recreation Department manager Lou Moodie. “As an Indigenous community, we are at great risk here, and everyone understands the need for these restrictions, but it’s hard.”

Moodie led his small team, which includes many volunteers, on an ambitious project: an 11.5 kilometre skating trail that is set in the vacinity of the beautiful boreal forest. He believes it’s the longest in Northern Canada.

“Our recreation department has been working hard all winter keeping people busy. We’ve had online contests and talent shows, Christmas light displays and New Year’s celebrations, but this gives our families the chance to revitalize. After this long, you start to worry about the psychological and spiritual effects of a lockdown, so we’re really pleased with this chance to skate and walk while keeping safe.”

Moodie and his crew created the entire trail through the bush using only ATVs, pumps, shovels and a homemade Zamboni. He has reached out to local businesses for sponsorship in the hopes of recouping some of the costs of the $30,000 project.

Through strict rules and vigilance, the Nelson House community has kept COVID-19 at bay, with only 6 total cases on-reserve. Some restrictions over the year have included alternate-day learning at the local schools, prohibited travel outside of the community, and grocery delivery service provided by NCN Chief, Council and administration. All staff and residents of its Personal Care Home have been vaccinated, and the community is preparing its nurses, teachers, front-line essential workers and RCMP for its next shipment of vaccines.

Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is located at Nelson House, Manitoba, about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg and 80 kilometres west of Thompson. It is an accomplished and progressive FirstNation, having secured its own Aski Pumenikewin (Land Code) and Othasowewin (Constitution). NCN has close to 5,300 members living in Nelson House, South Indian Lake, Thompson, Brandon and Winnipeg.

For more information, contact:
Lou Moodie
NCN Parks & Rec Department
Nelson House, MB
Phone 1-204-307-2243