YORKTON - A teepee project could soon be under way in the city.
The project, proposed by the Yorkton Tribal Council when they appeared before the regular meeting of Yorkton Council, would see teepee poles installed over the stage at City Centre Park, and a second one on the Tourism Yorkton property.
Isabel O’Soup Tribal Chief with YTC told Council the idea originated Sept. 30, 2021, during the truth and reconciliation walk which ended at the downtown park and it was recognized there was a lack of visible First Nation’s culture at the park and around the city.
Over the ensuing months the teepee idea was formalized by YTC.
“Now we’re hoping to see it come to life on Sept. 30, (this year),” said O’Soup.
The park teepee would rise more than 40 feet above the stage, created out of either 15, or 8 poles, explained Ajay Tadi with YTC.
Fifteen poles have greater cultural significance, each standing for things such as discipline, love, respect and humility, explained Cory Cadotte with YTC.
“It’s fitting that we pick the teepee,” he said, adding “the teepee represents our homes.”
In building the teepee, YTC would be symbolically inviting all peoples “into our home.”
However, an eight pole option was provided should it be felt the poles obscured the view of the already existing mural.
Yorkton Council was quick to suggest the 15 pole option was most appropriate because of what it represents culturally.
“I’m in complete favour of doing this,” offered Mayor Mitch Hippsley, adding he was on-side with the 15-pole design.
“I fully support this,” echoed Councillor Dustin Brears. “I think it’s really cool.”
The poles, approximately 4.5 inches in diameter will be positioned over a medicine wheel design using the already circular stage. The poles would be lit by LED lights which could be changed into different colours to facilitate supporting downtown events.
With Council appearing solidly in favour of the proposal there was the matter of financing the project which could cost upwards of $230,000 depending on the exact design, for the downtown park teepee, with another $30,000 for a smaller, simpler Tourism Yorkton installation.
City Manager Lonnie Kaal did note a second part of the YTC request, in addition to approval, was a possible financial contribution.
“This is a real turning point for Yorkton,” said Hippsley, suggesting it would “only be right and prudent that the City of Yorkton contribute to this.”
Councillor Quinn Haider asked if there was money in the current budget for such a project?
Kaal said no, suggesting any contribution would likely have to come out of the ‘rainy day’ fund.
O’Soup said while funding partnerships are welcome, they do not want that to be a stumbling block to the project’s approval, and moving forward as quickly as possible.
“We understand all the red tape that has to go on,” she said, adding they do not want financing to slow the process.
“It would be great if we have partners . . . But, if we don’t get partnerships we’ll fund it 100 per cent.”
While Council liked the idea they still made the motion to send it to committee to hammer out details such as proper approvals, safety details and the like.
Brears said if that was the way Council was handling the request then it was imperative they “make sure that the committee is meeting,” in an attempt to get it fully approved to facilitate YTC having the project completed by Sept. 30.
Hippsley said they should be able to get the committee on the matter quickly, adding they would try to have the project in a position for Council approval at the July 11, a date O’Soup said they could work with.