Local junior hockey team take action to strengthen ties with indigenous communities


For Dominic Fletcher, he’s seen first hand the impact the sport of hockey has had on kids in his community of Missanabie First Nations.

“I created a hockey team for kids in my community,” said Fletcher. “Just seeing their smiles on their faces and just seeing them play with their whole hearts and work together as a team really had an impact on me.”

Fletcher added the team started out small, but calls continue to come in with kids wanting to play. 

“Knowing that one day in the future a child could come up to me and tell me the sport impacted them in a positive way is what we strive for,” said Fletcher.

“They may not become NHL players, but become really good citizens in their communities, that’s all we can ask for.” 

So the day Fletcher was approached by the Greater Sudbury Cubs to help strengthen the organization’s ties to indigenous communities like his in northern Ontario, it was an easy choice.

“I want to continue inspiring indigenous kids to show them it’s possible to play a sport they love without always having to leave their community,” said Fletcher.

“We really are hoping to showcase our local indigenous hockey teams and open doors and give them positive feedback.” 

Ben Harris, who plays right wing, is one of three indigenous players on the team. He is grateful and looking forward to having Fletcher be part of the organization. 

“It means a lot to me because I’m First Nations myself and all my family are First Nations, so I grew up playing hockey,” said Harris.

Ben Harris is a right wing for the Sudbury Cubs and one of three indigenous players on the team. He is grateful to have Fletcher join the team. (Submitted by Greater Sudbury Cubs)

“I started playing when I was three years old. The fact that I can play for my hometown and play at this high a level, I think it’s awesome.”

Event planning is already underway for Fletcher as he begins to build connections within indigenous communities. 

“On September 29th, we have a game against the French River Rapids,” said Fletcher.

“During the game we will be honouring Truth and Reconciliation Day. We will be handing out orange t-shirts to help spread the message and there will be a quilt that has been donated to the team with the team colours from Quilts for Survivors which will be on display during our game with all proceeds going to Quilts for Survivors to help even more residential school survivors and their families.”

He added that  “EVERY CHILD MATTERS” rink boards will be installed in the Countryside and Centennial arenas as of September 29th to honour missing children, the families left behind and survivors of the Canadian residential school system.

It may just be the beginning for this new role and team initiative, but one thing is very clear for Fletcher.

“It is important for the Cubs to become a junior hockey organization that leads by initiating the reconciliation process,” said Fletcher “And engages with local communities.”

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