Efforts to honour Weldon man who died in mass stabbing to receive boost from James Smith Cree Nation

Weldon's Wesley Petterson was one of 11 people murdered in the mass stabbing in Weldon and James Smith Cree Nation. -- Submitted photo.

Efforts to honour Weldon’s Wesley Petterson will receive a big boost on Saturday from James Smith Cree Nation.

The 78-year-old Petterson was one of 11 people murdered during the stabbing massacre in Weldon and James Smith Cree Nation less than two years ago. In February 2024, Weldon residents started the Weldon Playground Project to honour him.

The group plans to host a pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday, and James Smith Cree Nation, Chakastaypasin Band, and Peter Chapman Band leadership and members will be in attendance to make a donation.

Weldon Playground Project co-director Chelsey Erickson said they originally sent an invitation to James Smith leaders hoping they would attend, and were floored when the First Nation offered to bring a donation too.

“Emotions are extremely high right now,” Erickson said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “It’s crazy the support we are getting for this.

“We were all, not shocked, but we … were overwhelmed … and overjoyed that they’re willing to help us out. It’s really hard to explain.”

Erickson was raised in Weldon and new Petterson her whole life. She and other group members described him as a friendly and good-natured resident who would rise early and be the first person at the local seniors’ centre, where he would make coffee for everyone.

“He was such a kind man,” Erickson said in a press release. “He’d give you the shirt off his back because that’s the type of person he was.”

A rendition of the proposed playground design. The park will be named after Wesley Petterson. — Submitted photo.

Weldon community members decided to create a park in his honour as a way to help local youth. Erickson said the community has seen a steady growth in the number of children living there, but the local recreational amenities haven’t kept up.

She said a playground would receive plenty of use, as there is currently no designated park in Weldon. The closest thing is a few metal swings in an abandoned school yard.

“We need a safe place where children are free to play and have fun without traffic,” Erickson said. “It would be a gathering place for families.

“Parents and grandparents could bring their kids to the playground and enjoy climbing, swinging, or sliding on the equipment. I envision families playing catch, playing games, or having a picnic. It’s a much-needed space that all residents would be able to use and enjoy.”

There are currently five people on the Weldon Playground Committee. They hope to spearhead efforts to raise $150,000 for the project.

The group hasn’t committed to a site, but hopes to build near the Weldon Care Home. The goal is to have a play structure built and ready by the end of the summer.

The pancake breakfast fundraiser begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the Weldon Auditorium. Other fundraisers planned include a bottle drive, a BBQ, and a dance. James Smith Cree Nation leaders will be on hand at 10:30 for the presentation.