An all-Indigenous women’s broomball team from three Quebec First Nations stepped up their game and won the “B” Championship at the Can-Am Broomball Tournament in Syracuse, New York.
According to team captain Lorrain Nottaway, it was a thrilling 3-2 finish in overtime.
“We were down by two points, within the last two minutes, we got caught up and took it to overtime,” she said.
Nottaway, who is Algonquin from Rapid Lake, Que., has been playing broomball since she could walk. She said it’s a popular sport in Indigenous communities.
She said she’s always wanted to compete with an all-Indigenous team, so when she heard about the tournament, she rallied up some players from two Cree communities and her own community.
“I got a line from each community, Waswanipi there’s five players there, Waskaganish, there’s three players there, Rapid Lake, there’s like five players from there,” she said.
“So, the lines worked, there was chemistry on the ice.”
That’s how the AlgonCrees were born. Without a single practice, the women won their first tournament together, in a higher calibre.
Nottaway said it was a great feeling to win.
Their name reflects the nations on the team. The jerseys are white, black and orange – they include a light blue and pink ribbon and the letters CLE – an acronym for Cree Leukoencephalopathy, a fatal genetic disease that affects the brain development of Cree infants.
“It’s fatal,” said Nottaway. “One of our players actually lost her daughter to that disease a few months ago and we would like to spread awareness.”
The AlgonCrees team plans to compete in the Quebec provincial broomball competition in April and the World Championships in France this fall, where they’ll continue to spread awareness about CLE.