Support strong for Big River First Nation hockey tournament

Photo by Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Roddy Ross (pictured) of the Canoe Lake Young Guns was one of several players to take part in the Big River First Nation Hockey tournament this past weekend at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert was buzzing over the weekend. The first annual Big River First Nation hockey tournament took place over the weekend and had several large crowds in attendance to watch First Nations teams from across Saskatchewan take the ice.

Jack Rayne, the chief of Big River First Nation, says it was incredible to see the support for the athletes.

“It’s amazing. I didn’t expect to have all the support. It’s amazing to have all these big teams show up to this big tournament. That goes to show that we’re very respectful. A lot of communities respect our community because of the hockey programs, I guess the hockey players that come out of my community. It’s not only our community, but it’s everyone else, all the youth that are out there in First Nations country.”

The tournament also got several players who have played junior or collegiate hockey to suit up. Goaltender Roddy Ross suited up for the Canoe Lake Young Guns on the weekend and has experience in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds and Regina Pats. He currently plays for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey program.

Rayne says it is encouraging to see so many players return to play for the hometown communities.

“I think it’s very important that they come back and represent First Nations communities, not only for themselves but for our youth as well, they are excited to see these players come, especially at a tournament like this.”

With the large crowd in attendance, Rayne says the tournament can show the youth in attendance what opportunities exist for them.

“I think it’s very important for us leaders to bring our tournaments like this together so we can showcase our role models so our youth can see where they can go. Not only staying on the rez and looking at what’s there but looking at a broader perspective of things in the bigger picture, the bigger world. I want my community youth to see what’s out there, that there’s doors open all over the place for them.”

The Round Lake Bears took home the gold medal with a victory in the final over the Canoe Lake Young Guns.