First Nations on Ice (

First Nations on Ice (

Indigenous cheers: Jamie Lee Rattray celebrates Canada’s win after women’s ice hockey final

Photo: Imago Images/Alexander Wilf

In the end, the Olympic snow only saw a red cloud of glee. The final siren had barely gone off when the women in Team Canada’s red jerseys filled the ice and jumped into the air as one. The joy after 3:2 was limitless. Jocelyne Larocque in the middle of the cloud. The 33-year-old defender finally made it exciting again. He had to go to the penalty box at 3-1 for Canada. USA reduced the power play to 3:2. But Canada did not allow any more. And so, the team with two indigenous players won against a player whose roots were the only woman from a First Nations on the ice.

Jocelyn Larroc of the Metis Nation claimed Canada’s second gold medal in her third Olympic appearance, while teammate Jamie Lee Rattray celebrated her first gold medal. Silver medalist in the USA, Abby Roque was the first indigenous athlete.

In Beijing, cheers over the ice were echoed at the provincial kitchen bar in Edmonton. Hardcore fans of cult club Edmonton Oilers flock to their local pub in the evening prime time to watch the women’s ice hockey final. “Hey, our ladies are good, they’ll beat USA,” said one of the fans, Cameron, “n.d.” before kick-off.

Canada and the United States dominate women’s ice hockey. There are several reasons for this. The NCAA, the federation for college ice hockey in North America, has held a women’s championship since 2001. In general, ice hockey is highly rated in North America; It’s just called hockey here and playing it on ice goes without saying. And then there is the strong desire of individual hockey girls to emulate their male peers.

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As was the case with American player Abby Roque, a member of the Ojibwe First Nation. She was often there when her father, as a trainer, would give tips and tricks to the boys. During the break, she walked alone on the ice and tried what she had just seen. Later she played in teams with the boys – and was always aware of her double special role. » In the United States, indigenous players are rather uncommon. In conversations with other players, but in dealing with the history of the sport, I saw how many racist insults there were and are and how difficult it is for indigenous athletes,” she later said.

Joseline Laroque of Metis ethnicity got into ice hockey thanks to her sister.

Joseline Laroque of Metis ethnicity got into ice hockey thanks to her sister.

It was easier there for their Canadian rivals. Indigenous educational institutions were established in the 1970s in protest against state boarding schools, where Indigenous children were not only cut off from their native culture, but were often abused and sexually abused. These new indigenous schools quickly established their own sports programs. Including ice hockey. The Edmonton Oilers, for example, support the Ben Cafe Robb Society’s indigenous hockey academy. Former Oilers defenseman Jason Stradwick is the coach there: “We want to teach not only skills in hockey, but also a general sense of balance to the body as well as strength, flexibility, and a sense of coordination. And we’re building a sense of solidarity. also want a friendly atmosphere,” Stradwick says.

Cameron says such activities resonate well with White Oilers fans. “We also had an Indigenous player on the NHL roster last year at Ethan Bears. Unfortunately, the Oilers sold him. But he was very popular with us fans, also because he came from here,” he says.

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However, some Oilers supporters blamed Bear after the loss and were racially abused online. The player defended himself via Twitter: “I stand here to defend myself against this behavior. Proud to be from the Ochapowes First Nation, proud of where I come from.« He said this also explained that they would also spread this message » for the next generation, for change. Their call received a great response in Canada – and made them even more popular with most fans.

The current Olympic champions also benefited from sports infrastructure that was opened to indigenous athletes or that was built specifically for them. Joseline Laroque of Metis ethnicity had come to play ice hockey with her older sister. In retrospect, she reports that she did not experience racial discrimination: »But I am aware of our history of harassment. Even my parents introduced me to it,” she told Canadian media. On the one hand, the fact that she was selected as the first indigenous Olympian for the Canadian ice hockey team in 2014, made them proud.” On the other hand, it is also sad to be the first. Women’s ice hockey is still a relatively young sport. But they’ve been around a few decades,” she said on the occasion of her first Olympic victory in 2014.

He is now a highly decorated athlete, including two Olympic gold medals and two world titles. He is a well-known figure in Canada. She regularly visits First Nations schools and sports clubs. “I want to give an example. Because if you don’t know about certain things, you can’t dream about them and take them as inspiration for your life,” he says. Explaining. Teammate Jamie Lee Rattray, who is also a Metis, has also opened his own hockey school and occasionally coaches indigenous teams in Toronto.

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Larroc and Rattray are the faces of a change. Indigenous medalists in Olympic ice hockey existed almost 100 years ago. At the 1924 Games, Clarence “Taffy” Abel won a silver medal in ice hockey with the USA. However, he had always hid his origins before; Otherwise he would hardly have made it into the » white game «.

Abel was also the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. It is time to give such respect to indigenous athletes who no longer need to hide their origins.

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