First Nation hockey team competes in first-ever all-girls tournament in Ottawa

What started as a pipe dream became a reality for an all-girls hockey team from Fort Hope First Nation.

The Rez Girls travelled to Ottawa to compete in their first-ever all-girls pee wee tournament on Friday.

“I think they did amazing,” said Rebecca Jerome, the team’s coach and a teacher in the fly-in community. “They had a rough start but they were able to get comfortable with the ice and were working together and talking to each other on the ice and the best thing was them supporting each other especially their goalie.”

Jerome has been working with the 16-member team since September to get to them to the nation’s capital.

For many of the girls, it was their first trip beyond the Thunder Bay area, and it wasn’t just about hockey. They had the chance to tour Ottawa, including Parliament Hill and the Canadian Museum of History.

Allison Norman, the team’s general manager, says it took a lot to bring the team on this trip.

The girls started fundraising through businesses and corporations, but when word got out the generosity flowed. The team received donations from the community of Markham for the jerseys, plus donations of quilts, backpacks, hockey equipment and food.

Steve and Katie Koopman, of Kingston, launched a GoFundMe page, to help take the team to an Ottawa Senators game.

Steve Koopman says the page has raised more than $10,000 – far beyond the initial $3,000 goal.

“We’re already trying to get them a little bit of a jump toward next year’s tournament or even assisting with equipment in the future,” he said.

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