NHL announcer overcomes odds to realize lifelong dream

Clarence Iron has overcome many challenges in his lifetime.

“I had a rough upbringing.  Some I did it to myself,” says Iron adding “I was roughing it in life but then I was given a new life.”

Iron, a residential school survivor says “I got involved in alcohol, drugs and everything, I lived off the streets.”

He also ended up in jail more than a few times.

Iron says he believes if he continued down the path he was on, he would be “six feet under the ground, right now.”

Now, Iron says he’s let go of drugs and alcohol and has been given the opportunity of a lifetime.

Iron, who is a member of Canoe Lake Cree Nation, recently signed a three-year deal with Rogers to provide play by play for Rogers Hometown Hockey in Cree on APTN.

He says it wasn’t that long ago, people used to walk to the other side of the road if they saw Iron coming and that people used to avoid him thinking he was going to ask them for money.

Now they come up to him and tell Iron how proud they are of him.

Iron credits God for his turnaround and for the confidence he now exudes.

In 2019, Iron made history doing the play by play for the first nationally televised NHL game to be broadcast in Plains Cree.

The success of the broadcast led to a new deal between Rogers and APTN that will see six NHL games broadcast this season.

Calling an NHL game has long been a dream for Iron, but calling it in Plains Cree was beyond his wildest dreams.

He grew up listening to hockey on the radio and was a pretty good player in his own right.

Iron, who calls himself a jack of all trades has announced countless hockey games over the years in English and Plains Cree during his time as a radio announcer in Saskatchewan.

In order to retain his language while attending residential school, Iron used to talk to himself.

He watched as other students around him lost theirs.

Iron believes the NHL games in Plains Cree will lift up the language.

Young people are constantly coming up to him and asking him to speak the language for them.

“I tell them, you kids, try and learn Cree at home.  Maybe one of these days, you’ll be in a studio calling an NHL game or any kind of a sport,” says Iron who has called football, boxing and volleyball in Cree.

Iron encourages youth to stay in school and get educated because he believes there are so many opportunities now that didn’t exist in his younger days.

“The only thing I knew was to be a carpenter, a teacher and a policeman.  But now, there are lots of opportunities and one of them is this.  If you can speak the Cree language, right now the language is being raised up.  Everybody’s excited,” says Iron.

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