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