Aside from a brief period when I was a pre-teen, I’ve never really been a hockey fan. I don’t know if it’s left-over resentment from the days when my parents, both French Canadian, used to watch hockey when I was a kid living in the US and scream “score” at the top of their lungs, thus keeping me from sleeping. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not a very competitive person (more of the cooperative sort, really) and am therefore usually turned off my anything that heavily smacks of competition. But I’ve pretty much ignored hockey in spite of pressure from certain people who claim that one needs to watch hockey to be able to identify as a Montrealer (you know who you are).
However, I realised early on that I would have to get at least a little bit into hockey if I want to have a social life in Chisasibi this winter. Hockey is very important here. People watch NHL hockey but there are also teams and tournaments. This weekend, there was a big tournament between teams from different Eeyou Istchee communities. I found out about it last Thursday when a group of students that are usually very focussed were going batty with antsiness. I asked them what was going on and they told me they were excited about the tournament they would be playing in this weekend.
So today, I went to my very first hockey game. It was fun! I wouldn’t really care if I wasn’t rooting for a team in particular but of course I wanted the Chisasibi Hunters to win, especially since a bunch of my students are on that team. The arena (Job’s Memorial Gardens) was packed and people screamed in fear when the opposite team came close to scoring and shouted encouragingly when our team came close. In the end, Chisasibi won and I was as happy as anyone there. It’s funny how quickly one comes to identifying with the local community when it comes to stuff like this. I found myself thinking of them as “our” team.
On another note, I got my first taste of rabbit! At the table where they were selling food and drinks, I got a plate of rabbit dumplings! Mmm! And when we came out of the arena, the snow had been falling and there was a nice layer of snow through which to walk home, with yet more snow falling on us in the darkness. It was beautiful and a good sign for the coming winter as far as I’m concerned.