Whitehorse Daily Star

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MORE HOCKEY COMING – In typical spring fashion, players in the annual native hockey tournament provide a weekend of solid entertainment to hundreds and hundreds of fans. Whitehorse has just been awarded the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. Inset Michelle Dawson-Beattie

Whitehorse successful in bid for 2019 Aboriginal Hockey Championships

Whitehorse has been awarded the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, the Aboriginal Sport Circle announced Monday.

By Chuck Tobin on May 15, 2018

Whitehorse has been awarded the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, the Aboriginal Sport Circle announced Monday.

Michelle Dawson-Beattie, chair of the local host committee, travelled on the weekend to this year’s championships to Membertou, Nova Scotia for the official announcement and passing of the torch from the Membertou host committee.

“Hosting this event will provide immeasurable opportunity and experience for our Aboriginal athletes, and will enhance our community as a whole,” said Dawson- Beattie, who is also the president of the Yukon Indian Hockey Association.

“We have an experienced and committed team of volunteers in place, and we are confident the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Whitehorse will be the best championships to date.”

Dawson-Beattie told the Star by telephone the Yukon Indian Hockey Association was the driving force behind the bid for the championships, in partnership with the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle.

The quality of hockey is quite high, and generally attracts Jr. A, Jr. B, college scouts and the like, she said.

“They are very, very fast, and very skilled.”

Dawson-Beattie said the hockey association’s team of volunteers has lots of experience hosting the annual native hockey tournament every spring, and she’s quite confident in their ability to put on a first-class event.

“I think we can knock this one out of the park,” she said while in transit back to Whitehorse. “I think we can set the bar really high in terms of showcasing culture.

“That is one of our priorities, to showcase culture in every way, and any way we can.”

The championship will be held from May 3 to May 11. There’ll be 10 male teams and 10 female teams made up of elite players who are 15 to 18 years old.

Traditionally, Yukon athletes have participated as members of Team North – combined with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Dawson-Beattie said she sees the championships as an opportunity to encourage more participation in minor hockey, and the host committee plans to offer sport development opportunities for aboriginal youth who are not participating in the championships.

The cost of hosting the event is typically in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, and the host committee will be tapping into granting agencies like the Community Development Fund and relying on local sponsorship, she explained.

The bid included a commitment of support from local businesses like Air North and Northern Vision Development, said the chair of the host committee, adding the selection committee was impressed.

She said John Streicker, the Yukon’s minister of sport, also provided a letter of support.

Approximately 600 players and coaches are expected to attend, along with another 300 or so friends and family.

An initial assessment study completed by Sport Yukon showed the estimated economic impact of the 2019 NAHC at more than $1.4 million.

“The 2019 NAHC Bid Committee received a world class bid from Whitehorse, Yukon and are pleased to confirm Whitehorse as the host of the 2019 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC),” Jeff Spencer, chair of the NAHC Working Group, Aboriginal Sport Circle, said in a statement yesterday.

“The Aboriginal Sport Circle looks forward to adding to the prestigious history of the championships, when they co-host the 18th Annual NAHC in 2019.”

B.C. won the male championship on the weekend and Manitoba won female championship.

The Yukon had eight players on the girls’ roster, along with head coach Candice MacEachen: Anna Lund, Jordan Macdonald, Kathleen Fordham, Zoe Leas, Samantha McLeod, Cayman Oestreich, Isabelle Oestreich and Ecko Kirk.

There were three Yukoners on on the boys’ roster: Kyron Crosby, Johnny Elias and Lukas Jirousek.

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