It was a flurry of photographs and hugs as dozens of proud fans greeted Brigette Lacquette at the Winnipeg airport on Monday night.
A day after the closing ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Lacquette arrived home from her award-winning performance with Canada’s women’s hockey team.
Lacquette said she expected a few family and friends to meet her, but was surprised to see otherwise.
“I was warned, but I didn’t realize how many people were going to be here,” she told reporters. “It was definitely very special for me.”
The 25-year-old defence player brings home a silver medal after an upset 3-2 shootout loss to Team USA on Feb. 22.
Reflecting on the loss, Lacquette said it was a tough pill to swallow.
“We left it all out there,” she said. “Obviously it was very tough not to come back with the gold.”
Despite the loss Lacquette said playing in the Olympics was a ‘dream come true.’ Originally from the small community of Mallard, Man. Lacquette made history as the first First Nations woman to play for Canada’s Olympic hockey team.
An accomplishment she doesn’t take lightly.
“I feel like I’ve opened a lot of doors,” said Lacquette. “I feel like I’m that person, that role model for young girls across Canada [who] come from remote communities to be like, ‘you know what I can do that. I can do what Brigette did.’”
Kurtia Yetman is one of the many young girls who call Lacquette a role model. The 11-year-old, originally from the northern Manitoba community of Nelson House, has her eyes set on a few prizes, and says it’s all thanks to Lacquette.
“She’s my inspiration,” said Yetman. “I want to be on Team Canada. I want to be the second First Nations woman to play on Team Canada’s women’s team.”
In the meantime, Yetman was happy to get a hug and take a photo with Lacquette.
Lacquette’s parents were also on hand for the homecoming. Both her mother and father had to chance to travel to South Korea to watch their daughter play. Her father says the last month has been a whirlwind.
“It’s so hard mentally, emotionally and physically,” said Terance Lacquette.
“Just to have her home and relax for the next couple of days is going to be good for her and good for the family as well.”