Young hockey players from all over the Mackenzie Delta region flocked to Inuvik for the 17th annual Gwich’in Cup Thursday, February 22 to Sunday, February 25.
In all, 217 youth participated in the tournament in six divisions. The tournament’s newest division, the initiation division, includes five- and six-year-old hockey players, smaller nets and lighter pucks. No score is kept in this division’s games.
“It’s just to expose the kids to a tournament environment,” said Carolyn Hunter, president of the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association. “So far, it’s been very well received, people seem to love it.”
This is just one of the ways the Gwich’in Cup has grown to be more inclusive in recent years.
“In an attempt to make this a really inclusive event for everybody, we now register every child in the region that plays hockey and our coaches sift through all the players and they draft teams,” Hunter said. “So the the teams include kids from all communities.”
Young hockey players from Aklavik, McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Tuktoyaktuk, Paulatuk and Inuvik participated in the tournament this year.
“Tsiigehtchic, they don’t have a hockey program, but nobody’s left out. They can just sign up and join a team,” Hunter said. “Kids are not left out, even if there is only one in a community that wants to play.”
Hunter said the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association organizes the tournament, while the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) supports the event financially and organizes meals and activities for the hockey players.
“The leadership at the GTC absolutely support this sort of healthy community event that brings the entire region together,” Hunter said. “They’ve been very support of that, and sport, and youth and working together.”
Hunter emphasized that the Gwich’in Cup will continue to strive to be as inclusive as possible.
“You will not be left out for any reason. Whatever barriers you have in your life, nobody is left out of this tournament,” Hunter said. “The kids are really starting to embrace that.”
Gold: Delta Dynamos
Silver: Ice Stars
Bronze: Northern Lights
Gold: Wolverine Warriors
Silver: Lynx Lightning
Bronze: Northern Wolf Pack
Gold: Arctic Eagles
Silver: Mackenzie Hawks
Bronze: Delta Raptors
Gold: Beaufort Braves
Silver: Permafrost Warriors
Bronze: Ice Bandits
Gold: Polar Predators
Silver: Glacial Knights
Bronze: Boreal Bruins