Her­itage and hockey

Mem­ber­tou hosts Mi’kmaq Her­itage Hockey Clas­sic to cel­e­brate Her­itage Day.

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com

It was an evening of fun and ex­cite­ment as Mi’kmaq chiefs and coun­cil mem­bers took to the ice to play staff from the Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment to cel­e­brate Her­itage Day.

Game 1 of the Her­itage Day series took place in front of more than 200 peo­ple at the Mem­ber­tou Sport and Well­ness Cen­tre on Satur­day.

The in­tent of the two-game series is to cel­e­brate peace and friend­ship, and high­light Mi’kmaq cul­ture.

This year, Nova Sco­tia Her­itage Day will hon­our the Mi’kmaq her­itage by cel­e­brat­ing the ac­com­plish­ments of the Mi’kmaq com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing its con­tri­bu­tion to the game of hockey, an­other rea­son for the games.

The evening be­gan with the singing of the Mi’kmaq Hon­our Song by a Grade 4 drum group from Eska­soni, fol­lowed by the singing of “O Canada” by Kalolin John­son of Eska­soni.

Sen­a­tor Dan Christ­mas of­fi­cially kicked off the non-com­pet­i­tive series with a cer­e­mo­nial puck drop be­tween Eska­soni Chief Leroy Denny and Ge­off Ma­cLel­lan, min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal.

Levi Denny of Eska­soni was one of the co-or­di­na­tors of the game. He said it’s im­por­tant to share Mi’kmaq cul­ture across the prov­ince.

“Not many peo­ple know that the Mi’kmaq peo­ple in­vented the first hockey stick,” said Denny. “This is kind of our way to say this is our cul­ture, this is our her­itage. The game of hockey has changed over the years, so we thought it might be some­thing fun to be able to do with the prov­ince and get the crowd out.”

Shel­don Googoo of Mem­ber­tou also at­tended the game. He said the friendly con­test was a great idea.

“It shows unity, it shows that we are all from Nova Sco­tia, it shows we can work to­gether, we can play to­gether and we can have fun to­gether,” said Googoo. “I think the mix­ture brings ev­ery­one to­gether — sports brings out the good mix­ture in ev­ery­one — we have chiefs, we have coun­cilors, we have politi­cians here and they are out there hav­ing fun amongst them­selves.”

The series is called the Mi’kmaq Her­itage Hockey Clas­sic — Bury the Hatchet.

Event or­ga­niz­ers se­lected the theme to hon­our a cer­e­mony held in 1761 that saw the sign­ing of the Hal­i­fax treaties. The cer­e­mony marked the end of more than 75 years of hos­til­ity be­tween the Mi’kmaq and the Bri­tish, and the be­gin­ning of a peace­ful and friendly re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two na­tions.

Dur­ing the sec­ond in­ter­mis­sion of the game, Eska­soni high school mu­si­cians per­formed their in­ter­na­tion­ally known song, “Gen­tle War­rior,” a trib­ute to the legacy of Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe.

The third pe­riod started with both teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in an on-ice round dance — a show of peace, friend­ship and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Other events took place through­out the game in­clud­ing a va­ri­ety of ex­hibits to show­case the Mi’kmaq her­itage and cul­ture.

Levi Denny said ed­u­ca­tion is ev­ery­thing when it comes to learn­ing the Mi’kmaq cul­ture.

“We are just try­ing to teach the non-na­tive com­mu­ni­ties that we are a cul­ture that are deep in her­itage and that we are very proud to be Mi’kmaq, but we’re also very proud to be Nova Sco­tians,” he said. “We have stuff to learn from the non­na­tive com­mu­ni­ties, and the non-na­tive com­mu­ni­ties have stuff to learn from the Mi’kmaq.

“Do­ing stuff to­gether is a won­der­ful way for us to, like the game it­self, bury the hatchet and move for­ward.”

In the end, the Mi’kmaq team de­feated the pro­vin­cial team 9-6.

Fol­low­ing the game, a tra­di­tional mid-win­ter feast took place with play­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers at­tend­ing.

Game 2 of the Mi’kmaq Her­itage Hockey Clas­sic was sched­uled for Mon­day in Truro.

JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST

Dan Christ­mas, cen­tre, is shown drop­ping the cer­e­mo­nial puck to of­fi­cially kick off the start of the Mi’kmaq Her­itage Hockey Clas­sic to Chief Leroy Denny of Eska­soni, left, and Ge­off Ma­cLel­lan, min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal, prior to Satur­day’s game at the Mem­ber­tou Sport and Well­ness Cen­tre.

JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRETON POST

Mi’kmaq chiefs and coun­cil mem­bers as well as staff from the Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment are shown play­ing in Game 1 of the Mi’kmaq Her­itage Hockey Clas­sic at the Mem­ber­tou Sport and Well­ness Cen­tre on Satur­day. The Mi’kmaq team de­feated the pro­vin­cial team 9-6 in the game.

Denny

Googoo

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