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Urban reserves offer a renaissance – Winnipeg Free Press

by pmnationtalk on January 29, 2015643 Views

January 29, 2015

Dispel stereotypes about First Nations and combat racism

The Arboc smoke shop, gas station and nearby VLT lounge is a humble little cluster. Its trailer and pumps and low-slung lounge are easy to miss among the shiny new hotels and car dealerships that have popped up along the TransCanada Highway through Headingley.

As small-time as it is, the tiny urban reserve helped spark Swan Lake First Nation’s renaissance, turning it into one of the best-run and most self-sufficient bands in the province. The small business ventures gave the band capital — cash-flow that helped fund everything from new playground equipment to a wind-farm proposal to the new casino near Carberry. The band was even able to fix up nearly every old house on the reserve. During a visit a couple of years ago, photographer Ruth Bonneville and I coveted one of the cool log cabins the band built for several young families, a kind of test project for a home-building business. It’s pretty rare to be jealous of a rez house.

If that’s what a small urban reserve can do for Swan Lake, imagine what one at Kapyong Barracks could do for First Nations in general.

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