Ron MacLean and Tara Slone touched down in Peguis First Nation for Rogers Hometown Hockey on Feb. 28 and March 1.
The tour which travels across Canada from October to March made its second appearance in the Interlake region of Manitoba having previously been hosted in Selkirk back in 2014.
While in Peguis MacLean and Sloan interacted with community members and hockey fans from near and far.
“When I was a child growing up, there was a show called Wild World of Sports with Jim McKay. It showed you how different cultures participate in sport, love sport. I was fascinated with that show. Also, because I was a military kid and moved around a lot and Tara did as well in her youth. I think we always had that sense that it’s nice to see Canadians reflected to one another. It’s nice to see our similarities,” MacLean said.
The Interlake Spectator had the opportunity to catch up with MacLean and Slone during the second period of the hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
MacLean touched on the First Nations storyline while Hometown Hockey was in Peguis.
“We’ve been honoured to be in both Yellowknife for Hockey Day and, of course, Peguis,”
MacLean explained that two particular indigenous leaders of movements, such as George Erasmus in the case of Yellowknife and Murray Sinclair in the case of Peguis.
He said their teachings exemplified to Canadians that dissimilar people can share the land, the dreams, the resources, but respect and sustain differences.
“What a way to stand together this has been,” he said.
The deeper meaning of Hometown Hockey
When asked her impressions of being in Peguis, Slone noted her visit to the Sun Lodge on Feb. 28 stood out for her.
“We didn’t know what to expect. It’s just the beautiful space with just rays of light beaming in. It felt like being hugged by the sun,” Sloan said. “Everybody’s energy was so powerful and warm and inviting. Grateful and we are beyond grateful.”
During the Hometown Hockey broadcast of the Canucks hockey game, Slone was wearing a gift presented to her.
“The gifts are very humbling, but we wear theme with pride as I know that they were made for us with pride,” Slone said.
Slone explained how her, MacLean and the broadcast crew have learned a lot during the Hometown Hockey tour, in particular with visiting first Nation communities.
“That is part of the blessing and the privilege of doing this and in particular in regards to the first peoples of this country,” Sloan said.
Hockey unites Canada
MacLean noted the game of hockey and other symbols such as the Canadian flag brings people closer together.
“I just think the Saturday tradition started it all. Whether it was on radio or television – Hockey Night in Canada. I always considered Maple Leaf Gardens and the Montreal Forum another room in the house,” MacLean said. “It’s one of those things. There are many in the country, the flag, and there are other symbols. When one thing becomes another, it’s amazing how that services passion.
MacLean told The Interlake Spectator that broadcast colleague Harnarayan Singh, who moved to Brooks, Alta., felt like he didn’t belong in the community until he threw on his Edmonton Oilers hockey sweater and went to school.
“That was an instant bond,” MacLean added. “The game is for all of us and room for us all.”
MacLean added he often says it’s six degrees of unification rather than separation.
“The connections that we’ve made,” He said. “The pride that everyone feels. William Prince on our broadcast today, so excited to showcase his home.”
He also added that Reggie Leach and Jaime Leach were proud to showcase Riverton and Peguis.
“That’s a real thrill for us to be able to be that conduit. Everyone just beaming with pride in their hometown and gratitude for the folks who were there conduit to something good,” MacLean exclaimed with pride.