Canupawakpa Dakota Oyate Complex easily held a crowd of over 150 who came to celebrate this new building's grand opening on Dec. 15. The community of Canupawakpa has been without a meeting hall since September of 2019 and they’ve been anticipating this opening day for their brand-new Community Oyate Complex.
Friends and neighbours of Canupawakpa community, members of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, elected officials from the RM of Pipestone and teachers from Fort La Bosse School Division helped the community to celebrate their new complex.
Chief Viola Eastman along with Councillor Gerald Sandy spoke, thanking donors and the project lead, South End Lumber, and noting that the contractor from Virden, Garth Nixon of Nixon Builders did the work. Sandy humorously likened it to Noah’s (Ark) achievement, referring to one man’s work building this large building.
Finished and open in time for the holiday season, Chief Eastman said, “There will be a few things planned for the holidays, and for the children.” As well, Chief Eastman looks forward to an important personal feast, the opportunity to hold her son Brendan’ s memorial in a few days; he passed in 2020.
This building will play a big part in the lives of Canupawakpa’s next generation say Sandy and Eastman, and fittingly, children played key roles in the day’s celebration.
Five children assisted Dakota school teacher, elder Linda Eastman, to cut the red ribbon. Noella Eagle’s Wanbdi Iyotaka School kindergarten students brought a greeting in the Dakota language and coming next to the stage, three Virden Junior High School students prayed in their Dakota language.
Beside striking bison art, the work of Sioux Valley Dakota artist Roland Ironman, hang huge quilts on the wall backing the stage.
Ironman is not finished. “There’s going to be more,” says Eastman. “We’re planning a remembrance for our veterans.” This hall will hold the yearly Remembrance Day services. Pictures and veteran’s names are planned to be mounted in the building.
The complex is constructed on the footprint of the former building. Chief Eastman said it is the same size as the former building, however that building included offices. In this new building there’s a kitchen, roomy bathrooms, a large stage and an overhead back door.
While the new complex is a building for now and into the future, Dakota heritage will not be forgotten as evidenced by an amazing display for the occasion. Historic pictures and artifacts lined the south side of the hall courtesy of Dakota educator Eugene Ross.