Lots of cheers and applause filled the Spectator Arena at the Shaw Center in Salmon Arm on Sunday night, but not just for the hockey teams.
While a warm welcome was extended on March 20 to all Level 2 U13 players taking part in the Provincials, they also attended a special ceremony which marked the addition of the Secwépemc flag to those flying above the ice cream.
After all the teams showed up, representatives from the Adams Lake and Neskonlith bands, including minor hockey players from Salmon Arm, joined them on the ice carrying a Secwépemc flag. After a song and drums, several people took the floor.
Adams Lake Band Elder Lucy Williams welcomed visitors.
Adams Lake Band Kupki7 (Chief) Lynn Kenoras-Duck Chief spoke about the size of Secwepemcúl’ecw – Secwépemc territory – noting that if people went to Invermere or Williams Lake, they would still be in Secwepemcúl’ecw. She said there are 12,000 Secwépemc people with 17 bands in the territory. She pointed out that the flag has 32 feathers, however, to recognize “the 32 campfires we had before contact.”
She thanked the teams and parents for coming and supporting the athletes, and the volunteer coaches for teaching the players about teamwork and relationships. She gave a special shout out to hockey moms “because I’m a hockey mom,” she said to further applause, as well as moms and goaltenders.
“Shake it, reset and play,” she smiles.
Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison said it was an honor to see the Secwépemc flag in the arena and greeted everyone enthusiastically.
“It’s great to have you here, in person, in Salmon Arm,” he said to cheers.
He thanked people for traveling to the community from across British Columbia – from Burnaby to Fort St. John to Cranbrook – and thanked the organizers, referees and parents. He wished visitors a wonderful time in the community.
Neskonlith lore keeper Louis Thomas also welcomed the players and told them they might be in the NHL one day — “playing for the Canucks, I hope,” he said. said laughing.
Adams Lake Band Councilor Joyce Kenoras, who helped organize the flag celebration, said earlier her goal was to make sure Secwépemc players can see their flag when on the ice and be proud to represent – all as part of reconciliation efforts at Secwepemcúl’ecw.
The bronze and gold medal games are scheduled for 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively on Wednesday, March 23.
View the BC Hockey U13 Tier 2 Provincial Championships on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/252316640355711
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