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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
Stories
Introduction
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)

 

The healing power of hockey

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by Patti Gower
The Globe and Mail, November 7, 2001

Part 6 of 6: Home to a feared Champion


The Pas locator The next evening, Winkler's chance to cheer ends with the opening anthem. The Blizzard score three times in the first 11 minutes. In effect, the series is over, and in the third period, goalie Reg Legace comes out of the game - to a huge ovation from the OCN delegation.

After just five years in business, the Blizzard have won their third Manitoba title. They go on to lose to Saskatchewan's champions, the Weyburn Red Wings, in the qualifying round for the national championship tournament. But not without a fight. About 400 OCN hundred fans, including a group that chartered three small airplanes, travelled to southern Saskatchewan for the series, which ends four games to two.

But winning the three consecutive provincial titles, the OCN did what no Manitoba team has done since the 1970s - since before Perry Young was born, since the days when two nations were segregated in The Pas cinema, since the time of Helen Betty Osborne.

Once an easy target for racists, the Cree Nation is now home to a feared champion. They are on top of their province, and want to show it in a new way.

After the season, Kerry Clark quit to take a job in the Western Hockey League. The Blizzard promptly recruited a new coach, Glen Watson, from the WHL and told him to win the championship yet again.

He will have to do so without Terence Tootoo, who has graduated from the junior ranks, turned pro and gone even farther south to the Roanoke Express of the East Coast Hockey League.

But remarkably the Blizzard's Cree stars all turned down offers to move to stronger leagues. They prefer to stay with a native-owned team, playing on native land, most likely dreaming of yet another title. It is hardly an impossible dream, considering that this season the team is off to the best start in its history - 20 wins and just one loss going into Friday night's game against the Dauphin Kings.

And the fans had nothing less in mind when they packed the gravel parking lot outside the Lathlin arena for a tailgate party before the season opener. As barbecues crackled, and beer flowed freely, people from The Pas and OCN mingled as if there had never been a divide between them - as if there were no Saskatchewan River, just 100 metres away, separating one community from the other.

The mayor was there, along with the chief, and on the bridge over the river a long line of cars travelling from the town to the reserve, to an arena both call their own.

THE END 
PRINT THIS STORY

THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 6):

Photo Essay
A Sporting Chance


1. More than a game
Bridging the community after Helen Betty Osborne's murder

2. The Blizzard calms a racial storm
OCN emerges from a murder looking forward

3. 'The Pride of OCN'
The tragic life of Perry Young

4. The subtle differences
Talent isn't the problem, one coach says, but discipline

5. 'There isn't a white way of passing'
Two communities look for ways to work together

6. Home to a feared Champion
The Cree Nation is no longer an easy target for racists


 
 

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