Hockey Hall of Fame honours team of residential school survivors

The legacy of the Sagkeeng Oldtimers hockey team lives on at the Hockey Hall of Fame with memorabilia now on display.

Beverly Andrews
APTN News
The legacy of the Sagkeeng Oldtimers hockey team lives on at the Hockey Hall of Fame with memorabilia now on display.

Darlene Ahmo, along with community members and some former players, traveled from Manitoba to Toronto to see it for themselves.

“My dad was the founder of the team, my mom was the manager, my dad was a coach, I was the assistant to my mom and my dad. Oh my gosh, that was a lot of work, and just seeing the display at the hall of fame was just like all those memories surfaced,” said Ahmo.

“I’m sorry, it’s just overwhelming.”

Ahmo recalled when her parents, Walter and Verna Fontaine, started the team in the 1970s on the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba.

“My dad, he played hockey in residential school,” she said. “He loved hockey. He was a really great hockey man. Now I know why he wanted to do what he did and why my mom helped him.”

The team played across North America and Europe. Theodore Fontaine played defence and said the team had a purpose.

“It’s a long legacy of denying an identity and it was an opportunity to come up with the identity that we were real, in spite of what government said that we were not real,” he said. “It was an opportunity to show that we were normal and we could compete with the world.”

Producer InFocus / Winnipeg

Beverly is a member of the Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation in Manitoba. She has worked in media for over a decade, including broadcast, film and the arts. She joined APTN in January 2017 from Regina, SK where she was a video journalist for CTV and Indigenous Circle.

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