Dazzling Display of Lights Marks 2023’s Tree Lighting Ceremony in Prince Albert

Downtown Prince Albert came alive with festive cheer as close to 1000 visitors gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday, December 5, to witness this year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony. The event illuminated the city with a breathtaking display of over 8,000 Christmas lights, generously sponsored by Beau “Lac” Funeral Home.

Marianne Turcotte, co-owner of Beau “Lac” Funeral Home, said the response from the community was overwhelming.

“We were immensely surprised and delighted at the turnout, thinking possibly a few hundred may attend,” she said, adding that they are grateful to everyone for their participation and support.

“We have always placed great importance on giving back to our community, and this was a wonderful opportunity to provide a free, fun-filled evening for all ages to enjoy together.”

The Prince Albert Children’s Choir set the stage for the event with renditions of classic Christmas carols, creating a festive ambiance that resonated throughout the square.

“Nobody looks forward to Christmas more than children and it was so special to see the excitement that the magic of the season brings to them,” said Turcotte.

Turcotte, who had the honor of flipping the switch Tuesday evening, shared the significance of the Tree Lighting Ceremony in the community.

“The lighting of the tree represented far more than just the upcoming holidays,” said Turcotte. “The tree is a tangible focus of inspiration and hope, of community and connection and an uplifting of our spirits.”

The funeral home’s involvement added a special touch to this year’s celebration. Turcotte expressed their commitment to community engagement and the joy of giving back during the holiday season.

“We were able to shine a positive light on the city of Prince Albert,” said Turcotte. “We recognize the very basic human need for connection and the evening provided an opportunity for a time of renewal, and a spirit of kinship for so many of our families and neighbours.”

Aside from the lighting of the tree, visitors enjoyed hot cocoa and homemade treats courtesy of the city’s Ukrainian community, writing letters to Santa Claus in the City Hall foyer, horse drawn sleigh rides by River North Ranch, and the opportunity to see The Grinch, who made a special appearance to spread holiday cheer.

The event provided an opportunity for the community to come together, celebrate the season, and create lasting memories.

“We are already looking forward to next year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony,” said Turcotte. “The addition of more lights to the tree, and a few other “top secret” plans are already in the works.”

Turcotte added that any local groups or organizations that are interested in participating in next year’s event are more than welcome.

“We would love to have you join us”.

Tree lighting ceremony brightens up City Hall: Photo Gallery

Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald
Beth Gobeil with Artists in Communities helps Shelby Parenteau and her daughters Willow and Copeland write letters to Santa Claus.
Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald
The Prince Albert Fire Department made a stop at City Hall Square to spread some holiday cheer during the 2023 Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald
The Prince Albert Mintos, the Prince Albert Timberjacks and the Mann-Northway Northern Bears pose for a photo in City Hall Square during the Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 5, 2023.
Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald
The tree outside City Hall adorned with over 8,000 lights generously sponsored by Beau Lac Funeral Home.
Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald
Ukrainian newcomers handed out cups of hot chocolate to warm up the crown outside City Hall during the 2023 Tree Lighting Ceremony.

PA Exhibition Tradeshow connects community with local businesses

The 2023 Prince Albert Exhibition gave local businesses and organizations the opportunity to promote and sell their products and services during the Summer Fair Tradeshow from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on August 1 to 5.

Hundreds walked through the doors of the Armouries on day three of this year’s annual fair to uncover all the unique items and goodies on display from around 20 different booths.

From the Optimist Club of Prince Albert to Flawless Victory to Limitless Gear, this year’s tradeshow had something interesting for everyone.

Alyssa Nagy is no stranger to the tradeshow community. She helped start up Kaze Productions in 2012, a unique one of a kind gift shop and Prince Albert’s first anime company.

“We found there was a real need in Prince Albert, so we started a tradeshow [and] we went in to focus on Christmas originally back in 2016,” said Nagy. “We’ve looked to keep all of our prices as low as possible to remain viable, so that even the little girl that comes in wanting to buy a necklace for her mom, can.”

Kaze Productions helped to create what Nagy calls a “tradeshow family” with other local businesses, including her mom who had her own jewelry booth set up across from Nagy’s.

“We really kind of created a community here,” said Nagy. “We all band together and really help to serve the public. It’s incredible.”

The 138th Prince Albert Summer Fair ends Saturday with a Demolition Derby at 4:00 p.m. and fireworks show at 10:45 p.m.

2023 Back to Batoche sees record-breaking attendance

The 2023 Back to Batoche Days festival was one for the books, as close to 45,000 people from all over North America paid a visit to the annual event hosted by Metis Nation – Saskatchewan from Thursday through Sunday.

“We had an amazing turnout with youth, adults, and our elders. They came out here [and] they had a great time,” said Kristi Ross. “They were jigging, they were playing, and they were fiddling; we had a packed house.”

Ross, Manager of Culture, Heritage, and Language for Metis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S), oversees Back to Batoche Days. She contributes the record-breaking attendance at this year’s festival to all the new activities aimed at people of all ages.

“I think it all comes back to making sure that we have items or areas for everybody to participate in. We want to make sure that children have an area to go, adults have a spot to go, elders have a place to go,” said Ross. “Those are our key spots and I think this year we hit all of those items and we were able to target more people to come out.”

One of the more popular areas brand-new to the festival this year was the Little Jigger’s Village, which featured tents with facepainting and balloon animals surrounding a playground structure and zipline that was assembled just in time to help make the festival a success.

“We actually just finished it the Wednesday before [Back to] Batoche,” said Ross. “We wanted to make sure that the children had a spot that they could play and have activities at.”

Even though the 2023 Back to Batoche Days saw the most attendees of any previous year, Ross and the rest of her team are always thinking of ways to make the next year even more spectacular.

“Our goal at the end of this is, I take my team back, we do a debrief, and we figure out ‘how do we make this better?’”, noted Ross. “We want to make it better for our citizens, for our people, and we want to make sure that it keeps growing each year.”

A Metis dance group displays their traditional dress outside the dance pavilion at the 2023 Back to Batoche celebration. — Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

Ross thanked everyone that took the time to come out and celebrate the thriving culture, language and heritage in the heartland of the Metis Nation.

“I can’t wait to see you guys back next year.”

Provincial and federal leaders attended the event’s opening ceremonies. Scott Moe is the first sitting premier to attend Back to Batoche Days, according to a news release.

Other dignitaries included the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nation’s Aly Bear, parliamentary secretary Terry Duguid, RCMP commissioner Mike Duheme and opposition party members both federally and provincially.

“In a post-pandemic period where coming together means all that much more, I am invigorated by the entire weekend,” said Metis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN—S) President Glen McCallum.

“Our Metis Nation continues to grow and share our vision and hope for future generations. Everyday at Batoche, I was impressed by the sheer numbers in attendance – the total combined was more than the population of Prince Albert.”

This year’s festival recognized John Arcand’s contributions to Metis music. In turn, Arcand created a piece that recognized McCallum.

The MN—S said it will use this composition at future events as a symbol for how far the nation has come.

“Our focus was on lifting him and his work up and this is indicative of the work he does and I am honoured to be part of it,” said McCallum.

He thanked those who attended and organized the festival.

“We had guests from our homeland all the way to Norway and the feedback has been incredibly positive.”

—with files from Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald

Prince Albert Legion celebrates Canada’s 156th Birthday at Kinsmen Park

The Prince Albert Royal Canadian Legion is doing its part to keep a longstanding community tradition alive on Canada Day in Kinsmen Park.
“Canada Day means a lot to the Legion,” said Rick Hodgson, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 2.

Hodgson explained that in 1971, July 1 was originally celebrated as Dominion Day. More than 40 years ago, a small group of Legion members got together and created a committee, who decided that the day needed a name change.

“They called it “Picnic in the Park”, then they got the words Canada Day in there and it’s been called that ever since,” said Hodgson. “It’s probably going back 40 or more years now.”

Hodgson said the July 1 celebration in Kinsmen Park is a way for the Legion to carry on the decades-old tradition.

“Years ago, it was a picnic in the park for people that stayed home. People go on holidays, but there’s lots of families that are in the city that don’t get out,” he explained. “The idea was selling everything for a good reasonable price, [and] for the families to have a good day out with some good entertainment.”

Two Legion volunteers man the draw booth during Canada Day celebrations in Kinsmen Park. — Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

The Legion’s tradition lives on in the Prince Albert community, as hundreds gathered near the Kinette Amphitheatre on Saturday morning to observe the opening ceremonies featuring the Colour Guard, Prince Albert RCMP and Prince Albert Police Service.

Wayne Sarginson, Canada Day Chair for the Legion, said while the turnout wasn’t quite as he had hoped on such a nice day, it was still a great crowd.

After a family-friendly afternoon filled with entertainment on the grandstand, a bingo run by the Candle Lake Legion, booths from different local organizations, food trucks and the Legion’s own concession stand, the July 1 celebration ended with a Canada Day cake cutting and a piece for everyone.

“It’s a birthday party, so you’ve got to have cake, right?” Sarginson said.

Prince Albert Multicultural Council celebrates Diversity on Canada Day

The riverbank was bustling on Saturday afternoon as hundreds gathered to celebrate Prince Albert’s Multicultural Canada Day, which featured a diverse lineup of cultural performers, a variety of food trucks, booths with both modern and traditional items on display, and an area with children’s activities.

Prince Albert Multicultural Council (PAMC) Executive Director Michelle Hassler said “it’s a beautiful day with beautiful people. It’s beautiful to see everybody here from all walks of life, coming together to celebrate as a community today.”

After only five months in the country, a PAMC staff member celebrated her first Canada Day this year at the multicultural gathering. Hassler said, “she’s really excited, it’s a good thing.”

A juggler entertains a young guest the Prince Albert Multicultural Council Canada Day celebration at the river bank. — Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

She noted that it’s important that both newcomers and Canadians come together and celebrate their diversity alongside one another on Canada Day.

“We want to make sure that we are welcoming and inclusive of all,” said Hassler. “We want to recognize that we respect and we support our indigenous communities, but we also recognize and respect our newcomer friends that found a safe home here in Canada to start a new life with their families.”

The Multicultural Canada Day isn’t just about celebrating, it’s also about education, said Hassler.

“This is a community gathering where you feel safe, where you feel welcome, where you will have fun, and also at the same time listen and learn about the different cultures, about the truth and reconciliation, about the residential schools,” added Hassler.

Community members caught a glimpse into different cultures from 5pm to 10pm with a variety of performers on stage, including stories of Bengal, a First Nations drum and dance troupe, a father and son Metis fiddle duo, a French performer, and ending with an Afro Latin fusion reggae band.

A fireworks display was planned to wrap up the evening, but a thunderstorm rolling through the area pushed it back to Sunday night.

Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association calling for new members in Lakeland

The Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association (SSFA) Lakeland District is searching for local people who want to get off the couch, get active and get participating in their favorite activities.

“The older we get, the more inactive we are,” said Barry Brezden with the SSFA Lakeland District .”In order to get your heart pumping, you need to get moving.”

“I just want to see people healthy.”

The SSFA was founded in 1984, when a small group of like-minded individuals in southern Saskatchewan saw a need for a fitness program for the 55 plus age group.

Four years later, the SSFA held their first 55+ games in the city of Melville with a few dozen handfuls of athletes.

The games have been held every other year since then, including the latest one that saw around 650 athletes from across Saskatchewan gather in Prince Albert in 2022.

“It was a booming success,” said Brezden . “We had a great games, a phenomenal organizational committee, tons of supportive sponsors and the games went off with great success.”

Brezden said the SSFA Lakeland District finished second place in the medal total.

“We had a total of 57 medals and out of those 57 medals, 31 of them were gold,” said Brezden.

“We have a lot of athletic people in our province,” said Brezden. “We may not have the most people in a lot of the provinces, but we certainly have a lot of talented athletes.”

While the 55+ Games only cater to seniors, for only $20 a year anyone over the age of 18 can join the SSFA.

From the Manitoba border to Blaine Lake to Uranium City to Neuanlage, the SSFA Lakeland District will help organize any sort of activity in your community that gets people engaged, within reason.

‘If you want to organize a Christmas present wrapping demonstration, we’ll do it,” said Brezden. “We’ll do grooming horses, we’ll have speaking engagements, we’ll have anything and everything so long as it’s an activity.”

Even if you’re not looking to get active, the SSFA offers its members discounts to local businesses, giving you the most bang for your buck. Anyone interested in becoming a member of the SSFA can join by reaching out to their Facebook page or website at

Little Red River Park transit trial proposed for summer months

The City of Prince Albert is considering the implementation of a public transit route to Little Red River Park on a trial basis this summer.

Transportation and Traffic Manager Evan Hastings is proposing a transportation route to the City’s largest park beginning July 3 until Sept. 2. If approved by City Council, the bus will run on a half-hourly frequency Monday to Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

According to a report written by Hastings, the implementation of a public transit route to Little Red Park would accommodate the needs of Prince Albert’s various social sectors, as well as provide access to the park during peak months of operation.

“Although Little Red is a popular destination for recreation in the City it is only reasonably accessible by private vehicle or taxi,” wrote Hastings. “This makes the park inaccessible to a large number of residents who rely on alternative modes of transportation such as public transit for daily use.”

The proposed Little Red Transit Trial would cost an estimated $48,000 including the service and fuel, but would be fully covered under the One-Time Public Transit Funding Agreement.

Due to the delayed start of the extended hours transit trial, the City of Prince Albert has transit funding available that must be used by March 31, 2024.

City Council will discuss the recommendation at Monday’s meeting.

SGI Salvage hosts awareness event to promote roadside safety for first responders

An awareness event was held at the Prince Albert Salvage Centre on Tuesday evening to encourage drivers to always slow down when passing first responders on the highway and ensure the safety of everyone on the road.

The Slow to 60 roadside safety event was a collaborative effort between SGI Salvage and Gateway North Towing, along with the fire department, RCMP and local tow companies.

“We thought letting the public see what first responders do when they’re working on the highway might inspire some people,” said SGI’s Michaela Solomon. “[First responders] need some space and some safety to do this stuff. Ultimately, when they’re doing their job on the side of the highway, it’s to keep us all safe.”

The evening included a vehicle extrication demonstration by the Prince Albert Fire Department, an airbag deployment exercise and a rollover simulation by the Prince Albert RCMP.

“If you see tow trucks operating on the side of the road, slow to 60 and give them the space that they need to do their job,” said Solomon.

“We just think that with the proper care and attention, all collisions can be avoided.”

According to SGI’s most recent data, in 2021, there were 53 collisions in Saskatchewan involving first responder vehicles such as ambulances, fire or police vehicles. Forty-four of those collisions resulted in property damage and nine resulted in people being injured.

PAGC Moose Lodge honors life of James “Moose” Sewap on second anniversary of his passing

In memory of its namesake, the Prince Albert Grand Council Moose Lodge held its annual memorial lunch on June 9 to honor James “Moose” Sewap on the second anniversary of his death.

On the riverbank of the North Saskatchewan River Friday afternoon, Moose Lodge staff and volunteers passed out plates of food to vulnerable community members gathered near the bench where Sewap was discovered following his passing in 2021.

“Today is June ninth and we are gathering in kindness to bring together our community, our relatives that are street bound to honor James “Moose” Sewap,” said PAGC Urban Services Coordinator Natalie Clyke. “We’ve been honoring his passing through daily food security for our homeless [and] vulnerable on a daily basis.”

Clyke said it’s important that the community comes together on June ninth to reflect on what the PAGC Moose Lodge has accomplished to improve the situation for the City’s homeless population over the past year.

In 2022, the Moose Lodge expanded its services to include operating the Moose Caboose in the winter months, allowing more community members that were unable to be housed in the overnight shelters access to a warm space and something to eat.

Now that the warmer weather is here to stay, the Moose Lodge is moving into its summer programming and evolving into a cooling space.

“We’re going to be able to operate our caboose in the vulnerable areas of Prince Albert where our relatives may lodge and provide them with access to food security, while being able to provide them with a covered space to cool off,” said Clyke.

Clyke said everything the Moose Lodge does for Prince Albert’s unhoused community is owed to its Lodge Keepers.

“The Lodge Keepers really hold the fibers of the Lodge together,” said Clyke. “The Lodge would not be able to thrive on a daily basis if it wasn’t for the fact that day in and day out, the Lodge Keepers show up and care compassionately.”