The Eskasoni Junior Eagles are having a historic year.
The team is in the midst of a best of seven playoff series in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League.
Along with hard-hitting hockey, the games are delivering a major dose of Mi’kmaw spirit in Eskasoni First Nation.
“We’re in the middle of Cape Breton and giving our boys an option to play in this league,” said superfan Caleb Gould, who attends every game.
The Eagles are the first Indigenous-owned and -operated team in the league. They play out of Dan K. Stevens Memorial Arena in the First Nation, and have both Indigenous and non-Indigenous players.
They were formed about five years ago by Eskasoni community members in response to anti-Indigenous sentiments on the ice and in the stands.
“Racism will always be there, it’s just a matter of education,” said Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny. “…I give credit to the league for allowing us to express our culture and our songs – as you see in our games – and our language – commentating in our language.”
Denny is an owner, president and play-by-play announcer.
His commentary is in Mikmaw and the game is streamed live on social media.