Ste. Anne, small Manitoba hometown of 2 Olympians, beaming with pride
Manitoba town is home of Team Canada hockey players Jocelyne Larocque and Bailey Bram
People living in the small Manitoba town of Ste. Anne are getting ready to send their love and pride to Pyeongchang, South Korea, where two of their own will compete for Team Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Defenceman Jocelyne Larocque and forward Bailey Bram are in Pyeongchang to play with Canada's national women's hockey team, and people living in their hometown of Ste. Anne — a bedroom community located 43 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, with a population of just over 2,100 — couldn't be prouder.
"We're such a small community and to have two Olympians from Ste. Anne is something to be surely quite proud of," said librarian Shannon Lenton.
A third Manitoban — Brigette Lacquette, from Mallard, Man. — has also been named to the team.
At the Old No. 12 Café and Lounge, framed photos of the two women hang on the wall along with a signed jersey, but the community's pride is perhaps most evident in two Canadian flags covered with signatures from fans inside the town's library. The players' parents will hand-deliver the flags to their daughters when they fly to Pyeongchang this weekend.
Young relatives of the athletes have left their handprints on the flags, and students from schools in the town have stopped by to add their names.
"They're really quite proud of the girls. This is something that everybody can't wait to watch and cheer on," Lenton said.
Bailey Bram's parents, Bill and Bonnie, have been counting down the sleeps till they get to see their daughter at the Olympics — unlike Larocque, Bailey didn't make it to the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014. She was cut from the team just weeks before those Games.
"She didn't give up when she was the last cut," said Bonnie, who told her daughter to go back to Team Canada's training camp to give it another shot. She did and fell in love instantly.
"If you work hard your dreams do come true," said Bonnie.
"I'm very proud of her," said Bill. "You don't need to be from a big city.… It's just a matter of getting on the ice and wanting it."
Jude Boulianne, a retired teacher and a family friend of the Larocques and the Brams, knew both Olympians when they were growing up.
He said their determination was evident from an early age. He points out that Larocque played on the boys' hockey team because there was no team for girls in the community.
"She was the hardest-working kid. She wanted to be there," he said, adding that both girls were set on playing hockey.
"It's where they belong. They earned it and they were relentless on wanting to be there. They were just passionate about that game and they made it because they wanted to," he said.
"It's amazing — two girls from a little town like here, and I think there could be more."
With files from Austin Grabish and Pierre-Gabriel Turgeon