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Aamjiwnaang adding new multi-sports facility this year

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Tara Jeffrey

A new multi-use, outdoor sports facility for Aamjiwnaang First Nation couldn’t come at a better time, said Chief Chris Plain.

“We felt that this was much needed, especially after having our indoor gym closed due to COVID-19,” Plain said of the facility, which can accommodate basketball, tennis and volleyball, as well as boards for ball hockey and winter ice hockey.

“It’s an opportunity for the kids to get out, get active, take a break from the video games, and try to encourage healthier lifestyle.”

The project, first identified in Aamjiwnaang’s Comprehensive Community Plan and approved by council, is funded by a revenue surplus in the band’s Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) agreement, formerly the Casino Rama agreement.

“That’s split amongst all the First Nations in Ontario — 133 ways,” said Plain, noting shares are based on location and population size.

“So we use the majority of it to fund our community centre and we accrue a little bit of surplus each year. There’s five criteria to be able to use that finding, and recreation is one of them.”

The new facility will replace an existing basketball court on Tashmoo Avenue near the band office. The twin courts will come with interlocking boards that can create a rink for ball hockey, and bleachers for spectators.

“If the weather is cooperative, we could flood it and have a skating rink in the winter,” Plain said.

Plans are also underway to decommission one of two baseball diamonds, while upgrading the other. That will make way for construction of a new Child and Family Services building and increased parking in the area, he added.

The band hopes to have the new facility completed in time to host Aamjiwnaang’s Solidarity Day (Canada’s National Aboriginal Day) in June.

 

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