Fort William First Nation hockey players competing at Little NHL tournament
The First Nation adjacent to Thunder Bay has sent teams to the tournament for many years
Over 190 hockey teams representing First Nations communities across Ontario are competing this week at the Little NHL tournament in Mississauga, Ont.
That includes several teams in a number of youth age groups from the Fort William First Nation.
Fort William Chief Peter Collins is at the tournament, not only as his community's leader, but also as a coach for its atom team and as an interested spectator; three of Collins' grandchildren are playing.
"It's more a bonding kind of tournament for a lot of communities," Collins told CBC Superior Morning host Jody Porter. "People coming together, sometimes from different communities that are working together."
Some of the players donning the Fort William jerseys during the March break tournament are from as far away as Sachigo Lake First Nation, Collins said.
The Little NHL, or the Little Native Hockey League tournament. dates back to 1971 as an effort to host a special competition for indigenous youth in the province. The tournament has continued to grow steadily over the past 45 years.
Aside from lacing up the skates and competing, Collins said, with the tournament taking place in the Greater Toronto Area, there are a lot of other activities for the young players. "It's all for fun, it's all for kids," he said.
"The kids have a lot of fun, you get to make some new friends and get to compete in the game too at the same time."