Seated at a picnic table away from the hustle and bustle of the fourth annual Ranch Ehrlo powwow, Frederick Ironstar looked around the Pilot Butte campus and notices the changes from when he was a boy.
“It’s quite the place you have here. It was way different when I came here. There were two cottages, and a small shed, shops, and a classroom area. They had a big barn,” he recalls.
Frederick spent close to three years at Ranch Ehrlo. He arrived on July 31, 1973.
“There were just boys here back then.”
He recalled camping trips and taking care of the horses that used to call the Pilot Butte campus home, along with finally finding success in school.
“It would’ve been a difficult time for me to transition to a school in the city if I didn’t come through here.”
Eventually, Frederick moved from the Pilot Butte campus to one of the houses in Regina – formerly known as Optimist House, now called Wilson House.
“I was one of the first people who went to that home.”
He has a sharp memory for his time here, remembering staff by name – Jim Ennis and Neil Armitage came to mind quickly, but, he added, “there was a lot of staff I appreciated.”
Dealing with PTSD from residential school, he always used art as a way to cope. But when it wasn’t enough, he was grateful for the opportunity to come to Ranch Ehrlo to further his healing.
“I needed a place like this,” he said. “I had a hard life before coming here.”
Frederick left Ranch Ehrlo at 16 and left Saskatchewan at 18. He made his way to British Columbia where he lived for several years, working as an artist. He recently moved back and was excited to have the opportunity to visit the place that helped him.
“It’s really nice to be here. I never thought I would ever come back here.”
“I have good memories of Ranch Ehrlo.”