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Mi’kmaq teams win hockey series against the government


TRURO, N.S. – The team of Mi’kmaq chiefs and councillors beat the government team 9-6 in Membertou and 9-2 in Truro.

[EDITED Feb 22: An earlier version of this article had the wrong name for the decorator of the memorial hockey sticks.]

Chief Bob Gloade of Millbrook says the Mi’kmaq team had a deep bench.

“We had a lot of strong players on the councils, a lot of talented hockey players – our team was no push over,” said Gloade.

The two-game hockey series, Feb. 18 in Membertou and Feb. 20 in Truro, was arranged to coincide with Heritage Day, which this year celebrated the contributions of the Mi’kmaq community and highlighted their contribution to the game of hockey in particular.

“Our teachings have always been oral so a lot of people don’t know that the Mi’kmaq handcrafted the first hockey sticks,” said Gloade. “They didn’t know the story of where hockey sticks came from, but now thanks to this event, that message is getting out there. That’s all part of the process as we work on education about our treaties so that message can get out there more prominently.”

Albert J. Marshall of Eskasoni carved three commemorative hockey sticks from yellow birch for the event and Mi’kmaq artist Alan Syliboy decorated the sticks.

Syliboy also adapted the Thundermaker image to create a logo for each team.

Senator Dan Christmas dropped the puck for Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik and Geoff Regan, MP for Halifax West and Speaker of the House of Parliament.

At the start of the third period both teams joined hands and formed a circle at centre ice for a round dance.

“The round dance is done for peace and unity, to bring people together, so that was a lot of fun,” said Gloade. “It was much harder on skates, hard on the hips, you could really feel the burn.”

Gloade says a couple hundred people watched the game in Truro and afterwards filled the Millbrook Community Hall for the traditional feast.

“The whole day went extremely well,” said Gloade. “It was real great opportunity to get to know members of the provincial staff, to get to know better the members of the government we already knew directly and to meet new people. We’ve been trying to organize a game like this for a couple years and it went really well.”

Gloade says it was especially nice to see the elected officials participating like Regan, Darren Fisher, MP for Dartmouth - Cole Harbour, and Tony Ince, MLA for Cole Harbour-Portland Valley and the provincial Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

Asked about another game or games next year, Gloade said it was everyone’s intention but he wasn’t sure.

“Maybe you should have taken it easier on them?” asked a reporter.

“We did take it easy on them,” said Gloade with a big laugh. “But they have a whole year to search their talent pool.”

 [RELATED: Membertou hosts Mi'kmaq Heritage Hockey Classic to celebrate Heritage Day, Feb. 18]

CARVING HOCKEY STICKS

Albert Marshall of Eskasoni carved three hockey sticks for the Bury the Hatchet hockey series between Mi’kmaq chiefs and councillors and member of the provincial and federal governments.

“It was a great honour, especially because I was asked by an elder if I would do it,” said Marshall. “I value my culture and the past, anything to do with the past.”

Eskasoni elder Ernest Johnson asked Marshall to carve the sticks to commemorate the games held in Membertou and Truro Feb. 18 and 20 as part of celebrations of Mi’kmaq heritage for Nova Scotia Heritage Day.

Marshall says in all, start to finish, he spent 70 hours on the project. The hardest part was finding the wood.

Marshall's ancestors preferred to use Black Ash but that tree species is rare and protected in Nova Scotia and Marshall instead used Yellow Birch.

“I looked for a long time on hillsides, on shorelines, places where the root is sticking out,” he said.

Marshall looked for roots with a bend at the proper angle for a hockey stick blade and cut out the roots.

“Then you shape it with a drawknife, the roots aren’t straight so you have to straighten them with the knife,” said Marshall.

Marshall remembers in his youth there was always someone in the community who would carve hockey sticks for the young people.

“I carved a couple for my nephews before, they used them for street hockey,” said Marshall. “I have carved Mi’kmaq sleds and Waltes.”

Waltes is like a dice game with small wooden discs and sticks.

Dozay Christmas of Membertou decorated the sticks.

One will remain on display in each rink, Membertou and Truro, and the third was awarded to the Mi’kmaq team as a trophy for winning the series.

jonathan.riley@tc.tc

[EDITED Feb 22: An earlier version of this article had the wrong name for the decorator of the memorial hockey sticks.]

Chief Bob Gloade of Millbrook says the Mi’kmaq team had a deep bench.

“We had a lot of strong players on the councils, a lot of talented hockey players – our team was no push over,” said Gloade.

The two-game hockey series, Feb. 18 in Membertou and Feb. 20 in Truro, was arranged to coincide with Heritage Day, which this year celebrated the contributions of the Mi’kmaq community and highlighted their contribution to the game of hockey in particular.

“Our teachings have always been oral so a lot of people don’t know that the Mi’kmaq handcrafted the first hockey sticks,” said Gloade. “They didn’t know the story of where hockey sticks came from, but now thanks to this event, that message is getting out there. That’s all part of the process as we work on education about our treaties so that message can get out there more prominently.”

Albert J. Marshall of Eskasoni carved three commemorative hockey sticks from yellow birch for the event and Mi’kmaq artist Alan Syliboy decorated the sticks.

Syliboy also adapted the Thundermaker image to create a logo for each team.

Senator Dan Christmas dropped the puck for Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik and Geoff Regan, MP for Halifax West and Speaker of the House of Parliament.

At the start of the third period both teams joined hands and formed a circle at centre ice for a round dance.

“The round dance is done for peace and unity, to bring people together, so that was a lot of fun,” said Gloade. “It was much harder on skates, hard on the hips, you could really feel the burn.”

Gloade says a couple hundred people watched the game in Truro and afterwards filled the Millbrook Community Hall for the traditional feast.

“The whole day went extremely well,” said Gloade. “It was real great opportunity to get to know members of the provincial staff, to get to know better the members of the government we already knew directly and to meet new people. We’ve been trying to organize a game like this for a couple years and it went really well.”

Gloade says it was especially nice to see the elected officials participating like Regan, Darren Fisher, MP for Dartmouth - Cole Harbour, and Tony Ince, MLA for Cole Harbour-Portland Valley and the provincial Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

Asked about another game or games next year, Gloade said it was everyone’s intention but he wasn’t sure.

“Maybe you should have taken it easier on them?” asked a reporter.

“We did take it easy on them,” said Gloade with a big laugh. “But they have a whole year to search their talent pool.”

 [RELATED: Membertou hosts Mi'kmaq Heritage Hockey Classic to celebrate Heritage Day, Feb. 18]

CARVING HOCKEY STICKS

Albert Marshall of Eskasoni carved three hockey sticks for the Bury the Hatchet hockey series between Mi’kmaq chiefs and councillors and member of the provincial and federal governments.

“It was a great honour, especially because I was asked by an elder if I would do it,” said Marshall. “I value my culture and the past, anything to do with the past.”

Eskasoni elder Ernest Johnson asked Marshall to carve the sticks to commemorate the games held in Membertou and Truro Feb. 18 and 20 as part of celebrations of Mi’kmaq heritage for Nova Scotia Heritage Day.

Marshall says in all, start to finish, he spent 70 hours on the project. The hardest part was finding the wood.

Marshall's ancestors preferred to use Black Ash but that tree species is rare and protected in Nova Scotia and Marshall instead used Yellow Birch.

“I looked for a long time on hillsides, on shorelines, places where the root is sticking out,” he said.

Marshall looked for roots with a bend at the proper angle for a hockey stick blade and cut out the roots.

“Then you shape it with a drawknife, the roots aren’t straight so you have to straighten them with the knife,” said Marshall.

Marshall remembers in his youth there was always someone in the community who would carve hockey sticks for the young people.

“I carved a couple for my nephews before, they used them for street hockey,” said Marshall. “I have carved Mi’kmaq sleds and Waltes.”

Waltes is like a dice game with small wooden discs and sticks.

Dozay Christmas of Membertou decorated the sticks.

One will remain on display in each rink, Membertou and Truro, and the third was awarded to the Mi’kmaq team as a trophy for winning the series.

jonathan.riley@tc.tc

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