East Central Schools cuts ribbon on Matt Swaby Memorial Rink

Submitted photo. The Swaby family cuts the ribbon on the Matt Swaby Memorial Outdoor Rink near East Central School last Thursday.

It was a perfect night for East Central School to cut the ribbon on their new outdoor rink on Thursday evening, named after the late Matt Swaby.

East Central Principal Joanne Tournier says the new outdoor rink was something local youth have needed for quite some time.

“This is something that our community has wanted for years. We sadly lost our previous rink and rink building due to a flood. Having the rink back is just so special to our community.”

Fundraising started for the new outdoor rink back in 2021 and raised nearly double the original $100,000 goal through a variety of different local fundraisers.

Tournier says it was tremendous to receive such wholehearted support from the school’s community.

“The whole experience has been absolutely tremendous. We started off at the beginning of the school year in September 2021. We had full support of our school community council. They were determined that they were going to do whatever we needed to do to raise the funds. We had a garage sale, a Christmas trade sale, we have several raffles. It was non-stop fundraising. Every idea we came up with we had the full support of our community.”

It was shortly after the start of the school’s fundraising in 2021 when it was announced that former Prince Albert Minto Matt Swaby had passed away due to a farming related incident. Tournier says Swaby was very excited and passionate about the new rink project knowing his three boys would get a chance to skate where he spent plenty of hours growing up.

“When we started our fundraising, we had just gotten started when we unfortunately got the news of Matt’s passing. He was so excited about knowing that his boys would have the opportunity to skate on the same rink at the same school that he had grown up at and skated on that rink his entire childhood and into his youth. To have that opportunity for his three boys was just an extra bonus.”

The actual grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony had been planned for quite some time, but Tournier says the execution was better than she ever thought it could be.

“We had talked about it as a committee and we knew what we were hoping that the night would be. It exceeded our expectations. It was absolutely wonderful to have so many of our sponsors, SEC members and our parent volunteers present. And then to be able to invite the entire community come out and watch the ribbon cutting and our special announcement.”

Tournier adds the weather provided a perfect atmosphere for the grand opening of the arena.

“It was almost surreal. We were so fortunate. We had beautiful weather, we had hoar frost on the trees and mesh around the rink. It was an absolutely beautiful night.”