2 Northern teens reunite in P.E.I. to win international hockey championship

James MacCara is from Yellowknife, and Brayden Uluqsi was born and raised in Rankin Inlet. They reunited in Charlottetown and took home the East Coast Elite League title.

James MacCara is from Yellowknife; Brayden Uluqsi is from Rankin Inlet

The two teens were born in the North but didn't become teammates until they met on the east coast of Canada. (Submitted by Brayden Uluqsi)

Two teens represented the North in an international East Coast hockey league championship last weekend.

James MacCara is from Yellowknife and Brayden Uluqsi was born and raised in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. 

They took home the East Coast Elite League title in Massachusetts, playing Under-18 hockey.

The two had played on the same ice before, but as competitors. Uluqsi played in the Canada Games for Team Nunavut and MacCara played for the Northwest Territories team. 

But they didn't become teammates or friends until September, when they reunited in Prince Edward Island.

The Mount Academy team won the Under-18 East Coast Elite League title in Massachusetts last weekend. (Submitted by Brayden Uluqsi)

Immediate friendship

The boys both attend a private high school in Charlottetown called Mount Academy, where they both play hockey.

"It's kind of crazy, but it's pretty cool we became friends, like, right away," said MacCara. "The fact that we're both able to represent the North, it's awesome."

MacCara began playing hockey when he was four years old in Yellowknife, and it quickly became his favourite thing to do.

He also played hockey in British Columbia when his family moved there two years ago, before they moved to Prince Edward Island last year.

Meanwhile, Uluqsi's parents are still in Nunavut where they watched him play in the finals online.

"It means everything to me. [It] just makes me super proud and thankful for my parents [and] all they do for me, [like] sending down to pursue my dream and further my education," said Uluqsi. "There's no better feeling than that."

They were on one of the two Canadian teams playing against six teams from the United States in the finals. (Submitted by Brayden Uluqsi)

'Makes me proud'

Uluqsi grew up playing hockey and said he was inspired seeing other players from the North when he was growing up. 

In particular, he said it was motivating for him to see the success of now-retired NHL player Jordin Tootoo, who also grew up in Rankin Inlet.

Uluqsi said having the chance to follow those footsteps and represent his hometown is a source of pride.

"It makes me proud to be Indigenous," he said. "We're strong independent people." 

Uluqsi will be back in the North next month, when he will represent Nunavut in the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse. 

About the Author

Danielle d'Entremont

Reporter/Editor CBC North

Danielle d'Entremont is a reporter and editor for the CBC in Yellowknife.  Most recently she worked as a national news reader for CBC Toronto, but has also worked for CBC Nova Scotia in her hometown of Halifax. When she isn't chasing stories she is on the search for the best hiking trails around town.