Not many people can say they’ve played ice tag with an Olympian.
But kids part of the Piikani First Nation were given a special treat last week when Canadian Olympic medallist Brigette Lacquette spent the whole day with them.
She started her day speaking at a school assembly and then spent some time on the ice with Piikani minor hockey teams.
“This was kind of my idea when she phoned to tell me that she had made the national women’s Olympic team,” said coordinator Marvin Yellowhorn.
The 25-year-old Olympic silver medallist is the first First Nations woman on Canada’s Olympic hockey team.
Lacquette spoke about her younger years and shared some of the difficulties she faced.
“It wasn’t an easy road, that’s for sure, but yeah, you know the obstacles I’d face, I was bullied when I was younger, faced racism.”
But she said one thing always helped her keep going.
“I lived in a pretty, pretty isolated community, I guess, about four hours north of Winnipeg. So there was a lot of commuting to hockey games and whatnot.
“The thing that drove me was my love for the game.”
For organizers of the event, Lacquette’s ability to relate to kids on the reserves was exactly why they wanted to bring her out.
“She realizes how important she is to the various communities. She realizes that her message needs to get out there.
“She’s embracing the whole thing,” Yellowhorn said.
And the kids Lacquette spent time with say the message has been received.
“There’s some days when I’m just like, ‘What am I doing here? I don’t know what I’m doing.’ And then there’s just like some days that I’m just like in there,” said Emma Manyguns. “She told me: when you’re having some of those days to just not think about it.”
Despite a loss against the United States in the 2018 Olympic final, Lacquette says the experience was unbelievable.
“Obviously we had the expectation of winning, but you know what, in the bigger picture I think that making a positive impact on these kids and and everyone reaching out — I guess that really comforted me in the loss and you know realizing that I made such an impact on these kids,” Lacquette said.
“So I feel like I really am winning.”
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