Manitoba

Mother-daughter duo fundraising to build prairie retreat for newcomers in Manitoba

Kerri and Raia Bryan say it’s important people connect with the land of their new home

Raia Bryan

Raia Bryan leads a family from Burma through their land near Prawda, Man. (Landing Well Retreat Centre/GoFundMe)

 shares

Welcoming people to a new land isn't easy but a mother-daughter duo is creating a place to make Manitoba more accessible for newcomers.

Kerri and Raia Bryan have 120 acres of land near Prawda, about 100 kilometres east of Winnipeg. It boasts the beautiful prairie landscape, the boreal wildness and a riverbank rich for fishing.

Through the Landing Well Retreat Centre, they also hope to share all that Manitoba's nature has to offer with people who are new to the country to help make them feel at home.

"We just thought wouldn't be wonder if we could bring [new Canadians], to bring that same peace that we experience there," Kerri said on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show.

Kerri Bryan

Raia, left, and Kerri Bryan, a mother-daughter duo, are fundraising to renovate an old train station into the Landing Well Retreat Centre. (Nadia Kidwai/CBC)

About 10 years ago, Kerri and her husband were living and working in central Winnipeg at different schools. They worked a lot with the immigrant population and saw "how much they were struggling to cope with life in the inner city."

But in their home countries, many had worked with the land and had a strong connection to it, Kerri said. 

So when the couple moved permanently to their homestead seven years ago, they knew it was something they wanted to share.

"Over the years it has evolved, so now I have a few families that are sharing my organic garden and they come and grow food with us," Kerri said.

Landing Well Retreat Centre

The Bryans already host day trips for immigrant families to garden and explore their prairie land, about 100 kilometres east of Winnipeg. (Landing Well Retreat Centre/GoFundMe)

The families grow their own food, share garden knowledge, harvest wild plants and fish in the nearby river.

"It's just giving them a chance to find that connection in Manitoba," Raia said.

But Raia added her mother always ran into issues when it came to accommodation. They have a small family home, which really isn't big enough for hosting other families.

There is an older building near the gardens — a more than 100-year-old former train station.

"It was actually used on the Greater Winnipeg Water District line," she said.

Landing Well Retreat Centre

The Bryans want to renovate the century-old train station on their land into the Landing Well Retreat Centre. (Landing Well Retreat Centre/GoFundMe)

Now, the family is raising money to renovate the train station so immigrant families can stay and enjoy the land. They've started a GoFundMe page to raise $35,000 to cover the costs of materials and labour.

Raia said if they reach their goal, renovations will start next spring, and more people can connect with the rich and beautiful Manitoba landscape.

"I've always had access to land growing up and it's been something that's important to me and enriching. It feels good to share it in that way, to people that really benefit from it," she said.

More On This Story