Last Sunday evening, just after 9 p.m., people on Kawacatoose First Nation near Raymore were shocked to see their powwow arbour up in flames.

“I was sad because there’s a lot of ceremony here,” said Caroline Poorman, a councillor of Kawacatoose First Nation.

“This is our traditional land here. A lot of ceremonies took place here and a lot of prayers from a lot of our elders happened here. Not only from here but from the four bands (of Kawacatoose, Day Starr, Muskowekwan and George Gordon First Nation),” added Caroline.

Quick-thinking residents saved some of the bleachers but the arbour’s announcer stand and store were lost in the fire. Loud popping noises could also be heard above and underground from the arbour’s electrical cords.

Darin Poorman, director of operations for Kawacatoose First Nation says members from the First Nation’s road maintenance crew and fire services also saved half of the arbour.

“Our responders who came to the scene managed to save half of it by bulldozing some of the parts down so we didn’t get it all burnt,” said Darin, adding the damages could cost the First Nation more than $80,000.

Caroline and Darin says they have an idea who started the blaze and the RCMP is investigating.

“In regards to who (started the fire), it’s under investigation with the RCMP and we are going to leave it in their hands to find out what happened,” said Darin.

Caroline’s late husband, Chief Richard Poorman helped build the arbour in 1984. Since then, it has hosted the community’s annual competition powwow and the Touchwood Agency Tribal Council powwow.

“(Richard) met with all the elders and the community members and this was the spot they chose,” said Caroline.

Kawacatoose chief and council says they are overwhelmed by the community response helping the charred harbor rise from the ashes.

Potash Corp is donating $10,000 to rebuild the arbour. Dozens more on Kawacatoose are coming forward to volunteer and Raymore’s local Coop lumber store is also donating supplies and funds with the help of Ontario based company, Total Contracting Management (TCM). TCM has been helping to rebuild homes on the First Nation since February.

“We’re going to work through this and get them back up and going and whatever they need done. We’re here for them, we’re not going anywhere. TCM is here for them,” added Lisa Eggett, project manager with TCM.

Darin says there are already plans in place to being to rebuild by next Wednesday and they’re determined to have their work done quickly so they can have their annual powwow on the weekend of July 18.