The friendship between the River East Mennonite Brethren Church and Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara received a boost from the provincial government.
The two East Kildonan faith organizations planted a garden near the corner of McLeod Avenue and Gateway Road along the Northeast Pioneers Greenway in 2011. The main planting happened in May 2012 when native grasses and flowers were placed.
Sara Jane Schmidt, who spearheaded the effort on behalf of River East Mennonite Brethren, hopes to have a bench installed later this fall, but acknowledged it might not come to be until the spring. As well, she said, plaques with inspirational quotations in both English and Punjabi will soon dot the garden.
Since becoming connected in 2010, the two organizations have made presentations about their respective faiths, have had meals together, and plans for other events are in the works. Church members also marched in a Sikh parade last year.
"Because these two communities are quite dominant in this area in terms of population, it’s important that we know something about one another," said Schmidt, a member of the church’s pastoral team. "Ignorance is usually the basis of fear, and so, by gaining awareness and understanding, you eliminate fear."
Guru Nanak member Gurpreet Brar said he’s glad to see the relationship between the two groups spill over into the neighbourhood in a positive way.
"It’s been really great to make a contribution to the broader community," Brar said. "Even though Guru Nanak and River East are the two groups who collaborated to create this, the broader community will hopefully benefit in terms of the greenway becoming more beautified."
"The goals should be that we leave things a little bit better than we found them."
Also included in the announcement was a plan to install another shade canopy bench toward the north end of the trail between McIvor and Glenway avenues. River East Neighbourhood Network trail committee co-chair Sigrun Bailey expects the canopy to be installed next spring.
Rossmere MLA Erna Braun is happy to see the greenway develop since its opening in 2007. There are preliminary plans to install a bridge over the Perimeter Highway to help connect the trail to Birds Hill Park.
Though the RM of East St. Paul doesn’t have plans to meet the bridge with its own trail system, Braun said the province is in discussions to make the connection a reality.
"Because the flyover is going into East St. Paul, conversations have been had," she said, noting she isn’t privy to what stage the discussions are at currently.
In addition to funding the two projects along the greenway, projects pitched by Valley Gardens Community Centre, Park City West Community Club, Bernie Wolfe Community School, Status4, Bronx Park Community Centre, John de Graff School, the Eaglemere Residents’ Association, Transcona Memorial United Church, and South Transcona Community Centre all received funding. The bill for the 11 projects amounted to approximately $360,000.