Hockey Night in Peguis returns with opening of new arena

It took seven years and $17 million to bring hockey back to the Peguis First Nation, which lost its previous rink to fire seven years ago.
The Peguis First Nation, a community of 10,000 people, has a new arena that seats 2,200 and has an NHL-sized rink. (CBC)

It took seven years and $17 million to bring hockey back to the Peguis First Nation, which lost its rink to fire seven years ago.

The community of 10,000 people now has a facility that seats 2,200 and has an NHL-sized rink.

"It has meant the world to the community," said Chief Glenn Hudson.

Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson with his six-year-old granddaughter, Meena, who plays hockey at the new arena. (CBC)
​Peguis Juniors centreman Tyler Woodhouse agrees.

"It brings a lot of us together. It brings our sense of belonging back," said Woodhouse. "The arena is awesome."

The Keystone Junior Hockey League’s Peguis Juniors share the rink with all local teams, including the three squirt squads that consist of four- to six-year-olds.

Hudson’s six-year-old granddaughter, Meena Hudson, is one of the 60 squirts registered to play.  

This building is not just about ice sports — "Young people and children are participating not just in hockey but in recreation," said Hudson.

The rink is surrounded by a 230-metre track that allows for year-round running and walking, something that gets tricky in rural communities after the snow falls. It also has a fitness centre and sauna.

Hudson, an industrial engineer, worked to make sure the building is sustainable. The rink is lit by energy-efficient LED lights and heated with geothermal technology, which ensures the stands remain at a very comfortable 12 C.

Bill Spence, left, and Lloyd Sinclair take a break from running laps on the track at the Peguis First Nation's new arena and recreation complex. The two are in training for a triathlon. (Joanne Levasseur/CBC)
It has already achieved Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart designation, which means it meets energy efficiency standards.

Arena construction generated up to $8 million in wages for Peguis band members.

"It's something that is very important to our community overall," Hudson said.

"I know the first day we opened, you could feel the positive energy in this building, and I think this speaks volumes of what we have done here."

It has only been two weeks since the arena’s grand opening, but Hudson said the job is far from done. He is already working on making Phase Two of the facility a reality.

The second phase will include two more rinks and a community hall that can hold 850 people. He hopes to start the addition by early next spring.