Dozens of First Nation hockey players disqualified from Indigenous tournament
Hockey Alberta says the eligibility rules are clear
Parents and players were stunned to learn more than two dozen elite hockey players were disqualified from the 26th annual Alberta Native Provincial Hockey Championships just days before the competition in Edmonton this weekend.
Cameron Crowchild is upset his son, Johan Crowchild, and 24 other players are not allowed to participate this year.
Johan is a junior forward for the Cold Lake Wings in the Western Provinces Hockey Association (WPHA), a new league.
Crowchild says he and other parents received notice just this week from Hockey Alberta in an email.
He says his son has played in the tournament every year and loves it.
"I don't know, it's like punish the Native while he achieves something great," Crowchild said.
His confusion stems from an understanding that if his son joined the WPHA league, he would still be eligible to play in the native provincials.
"We sent emails to Hockey Alberta ... nobody is responding."
According to Crowchild, the Cold Lake Wings posted on the Alberta Native Hockey Provincials Facebook page saying they were looking to recruit players, indicating they would still be able to play in the provincial tournament.
Hockey Alberta response
Brad Lyon with Hockey Alberta says that's not the case.
"Hockey Canada has a national policy that restricts Hockey Alberta from allowing participation within our programs of any player who was playing on a non-sanctioned team after Sept. 30," Lyon said, adding there's a reinstatement process with a November deadline.
"Anybody who is playing in a non-sanctioned program isn't allowed to come back to a Hockey Alberta program for the current season," he said.
The Indigenous tournament is operated by a third party group in partnership with Hockey Alberta to help with the registration process and insurance for players. The championships are an all-ages tournament with novice to senior divisions.The partnership agreement must also uphold Hockey Alberta's policies, rules and regulations.
Cameron Crowchild says he and his family will still attend the event to cheer on his daughter and his Nation's team.
Johan Crowchild still remains with the Cold Lake Wings for the 2019 season.