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Artist's rendition of Red Lake REACH project www.reachredlake.com

Red Lake students spoke up for REACH

By Randy Thoms Feb 5, 2024 | 3:48 PM

Red Lake High School students are showing their support for the REACH project.

It is short for regional events, arts and culture hub.

It would include a new arena, an amphitheatre and a walking track.

Speaking at a recent prebudget hearing in Dryden, Grade 10 student Callie Kristoff says the existing arena is 62 years old and is becoming a safety hazard for users.

“Paint constantly falls on us while we are skating, which can be unsafe and damage our blades. Band-aids such as a mesh net have been used but these will not last,” Kristoff.

She says with the REACH project, Red Lake would have a new arena, spaces for businesses and shops, multipurpose rooms, and a safe, fully accessible facility that will be eco-friendly.

Grade 12 student Caitlin Fetterly says the facility would also improve the ability to offer arts and entertainment.

“With the addition of a stage for live performances, children and adults can develop an appreciation for the music, drama and dance that is enjoyed, thanks to the local Patricia players, high school art programs and the wilderness Entertainment series, additionally providing opportunities for our two dance studios in town to hold performances on the stage,” says Fetterly.

The students also see the potential of the building being a place of refuge for communities to evacuate because of wildfires and other emergencies.

“By having this facility, Red Lake can alleviate the pressures placed on other community centers such as Thunder Bay during these times of crisis,” says Fetterly.

Grade 10 student Katherine LeBlanc says the facility can also improve on area residents’ mental health and well-being.

She says the existing arena is already a gathering place for people to watch a sporting event while visiting with neighbours and friends.

“This has a huge effect on the mental and physical health of people, especially seniors needing a safe place to go walking without the dangers of ice and other hazards that come with unpredictable weather in the north. The new center would have a positive impact on the mental health of our people and the way that they live,” says LeBlanc.

Initial estimates have the building costing $39 million.