Montrealers are notorious Boston Bruins haters; it’s a heated, emotional rivalry that has spanned decades and generations — except in one community on the south shore.
With the Bruins getting ready to face off against the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, die hard fans in Kahnawake, a First Nations reserve, are proudly donning their black and gold.
“I’ve been a Bruins fan a long time. Probably since the ’80s, I would say,” Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.
“Boston wears our colours: black and yellow. Black and gold have always been Kahnawake colours in hockey, lacrosse.”
The council’s chief says he has five jerseys, three sweatshirts, seven hats, 10 T-shirts, as well as black and yellow shoes to celebrate his favourite team.
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“You see people making sure they’re wearing their colours. The Bruins fans are a loud bunch. They like to let you know they’re Bruins fans,” said Joe Delaronde, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake spokesperson — and a rare Montreal Canadiens fan.
The community has even held events at its youth centre to celebrate the playoffs.
‘[It] was almost like a drive-in movie. People watching from their cars, kids sitting on cars, people on the back of trucks.”
The reason for why so many people in Kahnawake are Bruins fans is simple:
“Historically, Kahnawake and Boston are blue-collar towns. They work for their money and they gel together. We have a lot of Mohawks in Boston doing iron work there,” explained Brian Goodleaf, of Goodleaf’s Auto.
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Generations of Mohawk men have worked as iron workers at Local 7 in Boston.
“When I was young, just about everybody’s father was an iron worker.”
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Bruins fever only rose higher when Stan Jonathan, a member of the First Nations Tuscarora band, was drafted into the NHL in 1975.
“He’s one of us. So, it was very natural for people to identify with the Bruins when they had an actual Mohawk on the team,” Delaronde told Global News.
“From that moment on, you saw people either switching allegiance, or when they were young, becoming fans because that guy’s one of ours. That had a big impact. People remembering, ‘wow that tough guy, he’s one of us. We consider ourselves a tough people, generally, so that was something.”
Bruins fans on the reserve have just one goal left: “hopefully we’ll be going to the parade next week in Boston,” hopes Goodleaf.