Kǫ Go Cho Complex: forming the foundations of a bright future
Walk through Behchoko and it’s easy to recognize the door to the future of this close-knit community. In fact, open the doors to the 70,000-square-foot Ko Go Cho Complex and you can see the future in action.
Young people are stretching their skills and making new friends in the youth centre. Others are lacing on skates, intent on following their dreams of becoming hockey stars. In the meeting room, old friends greet each other before the group sits down to map out plans for a community gathering.
In another part of the sportsplex, a small group of seniors sip their coffee, fresh from the concession area, while they catch up on the news. More energetic individuals try out the fitness equipment in the state-of-the-art gym while complex staff work in their bright, attractive offices. Visitors intent on exploring the centre take the elevator to the second level so they can overlook the spacious public area below. And everyone is enthusiastically singing the praises of the brand new complex.
The vision for this impressive two-storey structure came together about a decade ago, about the same time the Behchoko recreation centre closed in 2007 and left the community of about 2,000 residents without any similar facility.
Fortunately, both local schools stepped forward to help the community as much as possible. "We've got to be thankful to both schools, Edzo and Rae, that they did open their gymnasiums for the evenings," said Behchoko Chief Clifford Daniels.
Without a permanent sports structure, residents, the community government, the NWT government and other dedicated individuals worked together to identify community needs and then to address how those needs could be met through a sportsplex.
Through hard work, good communication and respect for each other, those involved determined that the proposed Behchoko Ko Go Cho Complex would provide the infrastructure, the major attraction, the partnerships and networks needed to facilitate:
- a strong, healthy recreation and sports community and region,
- economic diversification and sustainable opportunities,
- a relevant and stronger tourism and hospitality foundation, and
- education, professional development and capacity building.
Planning for the complex followed, with funding partners stepping forward to ensure the vision became reality. The Community Government of Behchoko, through a long-term borrowing bylaw, secured a mortgage from CIBC of about $9 million. Total budget was about $16 million with the remaining funds coming from the Dominion Diamond Corporation, CANNOR, Tlicho Government, Community Government- CPI funds, Build Canada and others.
Construction started in August 2014 — and the entire community was on hand for the grand opening of magnificent centre on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016.
At the grand opening, Behchoko Chief Clifford Daniels shared with the audience both the challenges and opportunities the project presented. "It's a relief, really it is. It's my second term on this project, and it's finally done," he said.
The opportunities far outweigh the challenges, particularly for the young people in the region. For almost 10 years, the young people had very limited opportunities to play organized sports and no place to gather to learn skills, develop friendships and explore positive opportunities.
The opening of the Khon Go Cho Complex changed that.
"This is their building. This is their home to look after. We have to look after this building," offered Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus at the opening.
Chief Daniels is confident community youth will make good use of the facilities. "I think physical activities will really pick up. There will be more competition from our youths within the [Tlicho] region. "Hopefully they will develop themselves as time goes on and become really competitive and good enough to become professional level in the future."
Other esteemed guests at the grand opening echoed the Chief’s hopes and vision for the facility. The guests included Elder Michel Louis Rabesca, NWT MP Michael McLeod, Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty, NWT Municipal & Community Affairs Minister Caroline Cochrane, Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Father Wieslaw Szatanski and senior representatives of the project’s funding partners & project management team.
After the official remarks, the special guests led a Grand Walking Tour to unveil the arena, fitness centre and the youth centre. After the walking tour, everyone enjoyed the Ekati Hockey Challenge Cup, played on the arena’s artificial ice surface.
For more information please contact:
Senior Administrative Officer
Community Government of Behchokǫ̀