Much cheering and applause filled the Spectator Arena at Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm Sunday night, but not solely for the hockey teams.
Although a warm welcome was given March 20 to all the Tier2 U13 players participating in the Provincials, they also witnessed a special ceremony that marked the addition of the Secwépemc flag to those flags flying above the ice.
After all the teams filed in, representatives from the Adams Lake and Neskonlith bands, including Salmon Arm Minor Hockey players, joined them on the ice carrying a Secwépemc flag. Following a song and drumming, several people spoke.
Adams Lake Band Elder Lucy Williams welcomed the visitors.
Adams Lake Band Kupki7 (Chief) Lynn Kenoras-Duck Chief spoke of how large Secwepemcúl’ecw – the Secwépemc territory – is, pointing out that if people drove to Invermere or Williams Lake, they would still be in Secwepemcúl’ecw. She said there are 12,000 Secwépemc people with 17 bands in the territory. She pointed out the flag has 32 feathers, however, to acknowledge “the 32 campfires we had pre-contact.”
She thanked teams and parents for coming and for supporting the athletes, and volunteer coaches for teaching the players about teamwork and relationships. She gave a special shout-out to hockey moms “as I’m a hockey mom,” she said to extra applause, and also to goalie moms and goalies.
“Shake it off, reset and play,” she smiled.
Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison said it was an honour to see the Secwépemc flag in the arena, and gave an enthusiastic welcome to everyone.
“It’s great to have you here, in person, in Salmon Arm,” he said to cheers.
He thanked people for travelling to the community from all over B.C. – from Burnaby to Fort St. John to Cranbrook – and thanked organizers, referees and parents. He wished the visitors a wonderful time in the community.
Neskonlith Knowledge Keeper Louis Thomas also welcomed the players and said maybe one day they’d be in the NHL – “playing for the Canucks, I hope,” he said to laughter.
Adams Lake Band Councillor Joyce Kenoras, who helped organize the flag celebration, said earlier it’s her goal to ensure that Secwépemc players can see their flag when on the ice and be proud to represent – all as part of reconciliation efforts in Secwepemcúl’ecw.
The bronze and gold medal games are scheduled for 5 and 8 p.m. respectively on Wednesday, March 23.
See the BC Hockey U13 Tier 2 Provincial Championships on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/252316640355711
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