SIX NATIONS – With Bread and Cheese Day passing on Monday, better known off-reserve as Victoria Day, so did the usual date for the Six Nations Arrows home-opener.
The population at Ohsweken usually quadruples with a fair and the annual Six Nations Arrows Express lacrosse game Monday afternoon at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena, but the ongoing pandemic has seen to many breaks in tradition.
Bread and Cheese Day is an annual “gathering of the Nations” as it were, as Six Nations families from across Turtle Island come home to get reacquainted with friends and relatives.
Queen Victoria started the tradition of giving gifts to each member of “Her Majesty’s Faithful Allies”, the Haudenosaunee (aka Six Nations), in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Initially the gift was in the form of blankets. Since, the Elected Band Council started the practice again as an act of public relations, but with a change. Today, rather than blankets, the gift became a token of a fresh loaf of fresh bread and a block of cheese.
The tradition of the Arrows playing their home-opener on the same day as the celebration began nearing the teams first starts as a Junior ‘A’ franchise.
In 1992, the Six Nations Arrows became the first Indigenous lacrosse team to win the prestigious Minto Cup – signalling Jr. ‘A’ Lacrosse supremacy for Canada.
A Peewee A and a Midget A provincial championship and a Bantam A national Championship were early indicators of greater things were in store for the talented players growing into the Junior division as a foreboding of success. It was during their years that the Six Nations Jr. B club worked to become a Jr. A franchise.
In 1990, Six Nations Arrows entered their first competitive season as a Jr. A team. In their first season they did not make the playoffs. In their second season they were eliminated in the Ontario finals by St. Catharines, who went on the win the Minto Cup. In their third year as a franchise, the Six Nations Arrows claimed the Minto.
Six Nations Arrows are not the first, nor are they to be the last team to win a significant sports championship in only three years of existence. They continue to inspire players and teams on Six Nations for years to come.
In 2007, the franchise claimed another Minto Cup after a win over Burnaby, then again in 2014, 2015, and 2017, showcasing that divisions of younger players were growing into the shoes that were left for them to fill from the earliest franchise talents.
Looking forward to the future of the Six Nations Arrows, promise of their participation in the Tewaaraton Lacrosse League (TLL) will give rise to another break in tradition. With the teams announcement of locked players, the roster is beaming with more talent promise.