Little NHL is underway

MARKHAM — This March break saw the start of one of the largest hockey tournaments in the country.

On March 10, an estimated 10,000 Indigenous hockey players and families from around Ontario descended upon Markham to visit, build friendships and strengthen skills at the Little Native Hockey League tournament, colloquially called ‘Little NHL.’ Looking back, the first tournament was held in 1971 with just 17 teams and 200 players taking part.

This years tournament was also coined as its 50th edition, garnering a record number of teams and athletes. Over 240 teams registered for Little NHL, an all-time record, with more than 4,000 Indigenous youth hitting the ice across 10 different rinks and culminating on March 14. More than 500 games will be played within that span. The tournament is also hosting a record number of female hockey players, with 38 all-female squads taking part.

The Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council posted to Facebook on Monday March 11, offering words of encouragement: “We would like to wish the best of luck to all the athletes playing and representing our community! Play hard, and know that you make our community proud.”

The tournament theme this year is “Honouring the Water” which seeks to teach participants and the wider community about the water crisis in different Indigenous regions on Turtle Island. A documentary film Boil Alert, by Six Nations own Layla Staats, about the water crisis was screened twice last Sunday to support the theme and educate attendants.

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