By Amanda Rabski-McColl
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
John Gull and Pamela Chookomoomin have been building rinks in their community for 15 years.
During the winter, the couple and a few other volunteers in Peawanuk, a remote Northern community just south of Hudson Bay, pull out their snow blowers, water hoses and heavy equipment to build the community ice rink, and provide a space for youth to have fun.
The rink has changed location year to year, and Gull said finding this year’s spot was a good feeling.
“I was looking for a location, and I was out there in the bush,” he said. “It was the perfect spot, right beside the lake.”
Chookomoomin said that while many of the youth in the community go south for high school and college, during holiday breaks, they’re out on the ice.
“A lot of the kids drive out there with their snow machines and skate and shoot the puck around,” said Chookomoomin. “We have evening events for the older ones.”
Most of the games are organized among the youth themselves.
“They’ll message each other and get out there for pick-up games,” said Chookomoomin.
The couple’s work within the community doesn’t stop with the rink. Gull said he’s hoping to get a tennis court built this coming summer.
“We tried to get it going last summer but the heavy equipment operators were too busy, so everything just kind of slowed down,”
said Gull. “Hopefully everything turns out well.”
The couple is also involved in the annual Wolf Run in August, which raises awareness for Type 2 diabetes within the community and helps get people active, said Chookomoomin.
“It gets people training and moving around,” she said. “It’s especially high in the Indigenous community too.”
Chookomoomin says there’s a lot of work that goes into the rink itself, but it’s worth it, and Gull is working to level the ground in the area so the ice surface won’t need quite as much attention next year.
“Last year we were out there flooding the rink 33 times, and there was a blizzard for two days, I don’t know how much snow fell,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but I’m glad the kids enjoy it.”
Amanda Rabski-McColl is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the
TIMMINSTODAY.COM. The LJI program is federally funded.