by Marcia Trudeau-Bomberry
WIIKWEMKOONG – Hockey was a backdrop to some valuable cultural sharing this past weekend.
The Leaside Flames bantam team play in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), and the idea to do more than facilitate an equipment giveaway was the brainchild of hockey-mom Tabatha Bull.
Ms. Bull reached out to Wiikwemkoong Ogimaa Duke Peltier, who quickly put her in touch with Youth Centre manager Lawrence Enosse. Together, Leaside and Wiikwemkoong were able to organize land-based activities, an equipment giveaway, 1.5 hours of on-ice instruction by Leaside for girls hockey and an exhibition game against the Manitoulin Panthers.
“Wiikwemkoong First Nation pulled out all the stops for us and we are so grateful. They fed us, they showed us their community, taught us their history, trapping and smoking game, filleting many of the fish species from the area and then put on a spectacular exhibition game,” Ms. Bull said, reflecting on their busy Saturday. “This small idea to gather gear, fundraise and then to travel to a community with the hope that our boys would learn a few things about giving and First Nation culture became more than I ever could have hoped for.”
The guests from Leaside were given a historical tour from Wikwemikong Tourism and a visit to the community teaching lodge where they heard from Chris Pheasant. Mr. Pheasant is a knowledge keeper, elder and shared traditional teachings and stories from Wiikwemkoong.
The team also had presentations from Leroy Peltier and Lorne Agawa. Mr. Peltier is a trapper and showed the handmade items including hats, mitts, gloves, moccasins and quillwork created from the furs and leathers he has harvested. Mr. Agawa shared with the guests from Leaside about his passion for fishing, and demonstrated how he prepares fish for consumption by filleting. He also smoked and cooked fish to sample.
The day ended with an exhibition Bantam hockey game featuring the Leaside Flames against the Manitoulin Panthers. Before the game, Leaside also presented Wiikwemkoong Minor Hockey Association with a donation of $250.