April 20, 2019 1:07 am
Updated: April 20, 2019 11:24 am

Nk’maplqs Challenge Cup: the ‘Stanley Cup’ for B.C. First Nations

More than 300 hockey players have descended on the city of Vernon for what's being called the 'Stanley Cup' of B.C. First Nation hockey. The Nk'maplqs Challenge Cup is about winning, but it's also helping build better communities. Doris Maria Bregolisse reports.

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More than 300 hockey players have descended on the city of Vernon for what’s being called the ‘Stanley Cup’ of B.C. First Nation hockey.

“It means a lot to us,” said Cecil Grinder, coach of the Caribou Canucks team of Williams Lake, said.

The Nk’maplqs Challenge Cup hockey tournament features 24 teams that are playing games through the Easter weekend; nine rec teams, eight masters teams and seven competitive teams.

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Players and their families have traveled to the tournament from communities in the Okanagan plus Fort St. John, Williams Lake, Merritt, Prince George and Vancouver.

“We get a bunch of guys together and we’re trying to be like role models for our home area in Williams Lake,” Grinder said.

Tournament organizers say, in the past, First Nations communities would often only come together for funerals, and they wanted more than sorrow to start bringing them back together.

“This way, you’re getting together for the love of the game of hockey,” tournament president Keith Louis said.

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“Hockey gets everybody involved. It gives you something to do and hopefully it gets the young kids that are into their computers and laptops, hopefully it gets them away from that and creates a healthier lifestyle for them,” he said.

“We’re just trying to raise our young kids in a different way so they don’t go through these bad things that are happening in our communities, negative things,” Grinder said. “We’re trying to turn the negative things into positive.”

The tournament culminates with championship games on Sunday at Kal-Tire Place.

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