Morley reserve needs indoor skate park, says mom who started non-profit

A Morley mother is organizing a group of community members to build an indoor skate park on the reserve west of Calgary to keep young people from turning to drugs, alcohol and gang affiliations.

Few positive options for youth on Stoney Nakoda Nation west of Calgary, says Tasina Pope

Community members on the Morley reservation are working toward building a smaller indoor version of Calgary's Shaw Millenium skate park, which is pictured above. (CBC)

Growing up on the Morley reserve about 60 kilometres west of Calgary, Tasina Pope saw her fair share of young people struggle with drugs, alcohol and violence.

After some years away, including a six-year stint in the military, Pope is now raising her young son on Stoney Nakoda Nation, and she sees the youth in her community headed down a negative path.

"They're going into drugs, alcohol or gang affiliation," she told Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray.

Tasina Pope has founded a non-profit group to spearhead the effort to build an indoor skate park. (Submitted)

"So there's drive-by shootings on the reservation, and that's not a normal thing ... it's kind of devastating to see that our youth are slowly turning into that negative lifestyle."

Pope is hoping to help break the cycle by building something positive on the reserve for youth — an indoor skate park that's free to the whole community, and open year-round for long hours.

There is already a recreation centre on the reserve — the Bearspaw youth centre — but there's an admission cost, and it's only open during regular business hours.

Pope chose a skateboarding facility as her goal because there are already a number of local youth who use the band office stairs for skateboarding, which disrupts the business activities in the area.

"There's so much potential on the reserve," she said.

"I think we could better ourselves and have individuals that are more productive to society rather than filling up the court systems, or the judicial process."

Pope now has a board of community members organized as a non-profit group called the Sacred Rocky Mountain Mini Thni Movement Association (SRMMTMA).

The organization plans to assemble the funding and other needed support to build the facility.