Hockey in Saskatchewan is like snow in winter: Everyone sees it regardless if they like it or not. Small town teams load up equipment in trucks, vans, buses or the family vehicle and set out on the highway to hit the ice in the neighbouring town's arena.
For Regina resident Mike Dubois, who is from the Muscowpetung First Nation, hockey was always a part of life.
- PART OF THE SERIES | Culture shock 'hit me really hard,' boxer says
- PART OF THE SERIES | 'I felt like I can't touch anything — he's watching me'
- PART OF THE SERIES | 'I didn't really know I was a First Nation person'
- PART OF THE SERIES | 'Culture shock when I first came here'
- PART OF THE SERIES | 'I was pulled over 3 times'
So, Dubois is used to travelling to different towns for games. What he didn't expect was his first experience with racial discrimination in hockey to happen like it did.
He played on an all-Indigenous team.
One team they competed against "started doing the bow and arrow stuff, calling us neechies and squaws. It's a real first experience and shock when that happens to you, especially when you're playing an all-white team called the Warriors and they're trying to be discriminative to a First Nations hockey team. It's just ridiculous."
'You're different from them. You're not that kind of Indian.' - Mike Dubois
Dubois' experiences with discrimination extended outside of hockey. He said, growing up, he stood out because of his braids.
He said he was called a "dirty Indian" or a "girl."
And when other Indigenous people were made fun of in his presence, the people commenting would tell Dubois: "You're different from them. You're not that kind of Indian. You're a good one."
Dubois said his son also has braids and thinks it's "a little" more accepted today.
The increased Indigenous content in school helps but, unfortunately, his son is still subject to what Dubois calls "accidental discrimination because kids really don't understand what they're saying ... especially when we have cultures that are new to Canada and assume that's what status quo is."
*Brad Bellegarde reports for CBC Saskatchewan. This week, CBC Radio's Morning Edition shared stories of discrimination from Saskatchewan residents.