Mother-daughter duo fundraising to build prairie retreat for newcomers in Manitoba

In News by MIIC

Raia Bryan leads a family from Burma through their land near Prawda, Man. (Landing Well Retreat Centre/GoFundMe)

Welcoming people to a new land isn’t easy but a mother-daughter duo is creating a place to make Manitoba more accessible for newcomers.

Kerri and Raia Bryan have 120 acres of land near Prawda, about 100 kilometres east of Winnipeg. It boasts the beautiful prairie landscape, the boreal wildness and a riverbank rich for fishing.

Through the Landing Well Retreat Centre, they also hope to share all that Manitoba’s nature has to offer with people who are new to the country to help make them feel at home.

“We just thought wouldn’t be wonder if we could bring [new Canadians], to bring that same peace that we experience there,” Kerri said on CBC Radio’s Weekend Morning Show.

About 10 years ago, Kerri and her husband were living and working in central Winnipeg at different schools. They worked a lot with the immigrant population and saw “how much they were struggling to cope with life in the inner city.”

But in their home countries, many had worked with the land and had a strong connection to it, Kerri said.

So when the couple moved permanently to their homestead seven years ago, they knew it was something they wanted to share.

“Over the years it has evolved, so now I have a few families that are sharing my organic garden and they come and grow food with us,” Kerri said.

The families grow their own food, share garden knowledge, harvest wild plants and fish in the nearby river.

“It’s just giving them a chance to find that connection in Manitoba,” Raia said.

But Raia added her mother always ran into issues when it came to accommodation. They have a small family home, which really isn’t big enough for hosting other families.

There is an older building near the gardens — a more than 100-year-old former train station.

“It was actually used on the Greater Winnipeg Water District line,” she said.

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