Manitoba

Phoenix Sinclair's legacy to live on at North End Stay and Play

The North End Stay and Play group is working on building a new home and is naming it in honour of Phoenix Sinclair.
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      Every Wednesday you will find at least a dozen parents and kids in the basement of the Ukrainian Labour Temple on McGregor Street and Pritchard Avenue in Winnipeg. 

      They're there for the North End Stay and Play, a group for infants and children up to five years old.

      "Aboriginal people have taught us that we need a community to raise our children," said volunteer Gerrie Prymak. 

      "When we can establish that and have all of our community looking out for our kids, they can be strong and healthy and that is the best possibility."

      Gerrie Prymak and Kim Edwards, godmother of Phoenix Sinclair, are working together to get a permanent home for North End Stay and Play. (Jillian Taylor)
      Prymak, a retired elementary school teacher, has been with the playgroup for seven years.

      She said in that time, the group has bounced around the North End looking for space.

      "One of the things the families said is. 'Why do we always have to move? Why do we always get the basements?'" said Prymak. "They said, 'We need our own playhouse.'"

      Prymak took that request to the group's charitable organization, Women Healing for Change.

      The dream of the Phoenix Sinclair's Playhouse was born.

      Prymak said the city has donated a vacant lot on Selkirk Avenue and the province has committed to funding operating costs. Now, the group has to come up with around $400,000 to build the playhouse.

      "The Winnipeg Foundation said if we raise $200,000 of the $400,000 by October or so, they will kick in $100,000," said Prymak.

      The charity is organizing fundraiseing events and is seeking donors to make the dream a reality.

      She said donations have already been made to the United Way for the Phoenix Sinclair Playhouse.

      Phoenix's Legacy

      Phoenix Sinclair was killed in 2005 by her mother Samantha Kematch and her boyfriend Karl McKay. The couple was found guilty of first degree murder in 2008.

      "It will bring out the story of Phoenix because she was an amazing little girl," said Kim Edwards, who was the girl's godmother.

      Edwards said she and Phoenix's father, Steve Sinclair, gave their blessing to have the playhouse named after her.

      Phoenix Sinclair, seen in an undated photograph, was killed in 2005 on the Fisher River First Nation. (Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry)
      Edwards said she loves what the North End Stay and Play does for kids and families.

      "This is amazing, more programs around the city are needed like this," she said.

      Edwards said she is very happy with the plans so far. She sat down with the architectural firm who designed the playhouse for free. 

      "This will capture her spirit," said Edwards. "This will be a happy legacy for Phoenix."

      Gerrie Prymak said it was the mothers who bring their children to the Stay and Play who suggested naming the new centre in Phoenix's honour.

      About the Author

      Jillian Taylor

      CBC Reporter

      Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been reporting for a decade. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor