Buckland trees travelled to Pilot Butte in a north-meets-south gesture to make a cultural point.

A symbolic teepee is now one of the teaching stations on the new path to reconciliation being constructed at the Pilot Butte campus. The path is called mamawi-pimohtetan which in Cree means “walking all together.”

It all started with some trees that needed to be removed from the Buckland campus.

James Westerman, director of property management decided that the trees would be peeled and sent to Pilot Butte and upcycled to build the symbolic teepee for the path.

There were eight 24-foot-long trees, and it was very labour-intensive. Two youth from Matheson House and one from Klassen House helped with the task.

Philip Nothey, seasonal maintenance worker explained, “The youth faced it head on. They showed great work ethic when they were shown how to properly peel the trees.”

He was happy the youth were helping because he enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience, especially about this particular activity.

James and Chris Shynkaruk, manager of property management knew it was a perfect project to partner with Prince Albert and Buckland homes and provide an opportunity for any interested youth to contribute their efforts to such an important enterprise.

They all worked well together on a difficult task. There were lots of breaks to rest tired arms and backs.

Chris said, “Those breaks were filled with laughing, problem solving, and yes, some complaining from all of us, but nobody quit until the logs were all peeled and ready to load on the trailer.”

From the project came a beautiful teepee but even more important, strong relationships were forged. Even today the bond between Phil and the youth is noticeable.

“It was really neat for me to see meaningful relationships build throughout the days between the youth and Phil,” said Chris.

Ranch Ehrlo is guided by the CARE model which is a multilevel program aimed at improving services for youth in care. Three of the six principles are competence centred, developmentally focused, and relationship based.

These youth learned new skills within their abilities including teamwork. They built relationships with each other and the staff. Building meaningful relationships is vital for healing and growth.

When the youth were shown photos of the erected symbolic teepee at Pilot Butte, they were pleased with the result.

They were even discussing their ideas on how to make the next one bigger and better!