The City of Portage la Prairie has a partnership with the Portage Friendship Centre for a zoned park space on the Island. 

City Manager Nathan Peto says the city-owned land has some clearings and limited access. 

"We were approached by the Friendship Centre if they could use it for Indigenous ceremonies," explains Peto. "That was something we worked out with our insurance program and coordinated with them. And that was something we could do. We were pleased to give a space to Indigenous people who want to practice traditional ceremonies in our community. And that has been challenging in the past because people will sometimes want to do those ceremonies in their backyards."

petoNathan Peto

He says the concern is that they use fire and smoke which often causes concerns from neighbours, making this space on the island ideal. 

"We've heard a lot of positive responses about having that partnership. And I think it's something we'll look to grow in the future. Jeanna Emms and the Friendship Centre have been tremendous partners, and they really embraced this space. And I think they're imagining a larger future partnership with the City that's something in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation that we'll continue to pursue." 

Peto says the group uses the grounds several times a week. He adds it's very well-used space and the response from a lot of the Indigenous members who use it is indicates they would otherwise have to travel an hour to two hours to some of the other places to have that type of space. They're really appreciative of that partnership.