A Cote First Nation athlete who had millions of pairs of eyes watching her every move during the PyeongChang Olympics in February paid a visit to Keeseekoose First Nation last week.
Wearing the No. 4 on her jersey, and playing defence for Team Canada, Brigette Lacquette arrived at her home in Dauphin, Man. from the 2018 Olympic Games with a silver medal.
On March 26, Lacquette attended a meet-and-greet event at the Keeseekoose Chiefs Education Centre (KCEC) to show off that medal.
A crowd of over 100 fans were on hand to welcome Lacquette, get her autograph and pose for photos with the star hockey player, as well as to draw inspiration from her accomplishments.
There were young fans like Tyra Keshane, who had recently finished her second year as a peewee with the Kamsack Flyers, and who was thrilled to meet her hero, Lacquette, and receive an autograph.
The evening began with Senator Ted Quewezance of the Keeseekoose First Nation acting as emcee.
During his opening remarks, Quewezance mentioned a brief history of Lacquette’s family that is associated with Keeseekoose. Her great-great-grandfather, Louis Quewezance (a former chief) was the manager of the St. Philips Rangers in the 1930s, and her great-grandfather, John Thomas Quewezance, was an original member of the St. Philips Ranger team which played at many places in Saskatchewan.
“I am sure it was Louis Quewezance’s dream to have his sons play in the NHL and be successful,” Quewezance said. “After four generations his dream became a reality when his great-great-granddaughter was chosen to play for Team Canada in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.” he said.
“Dreams can come true with determination, hard work and support of family,” he said. “She made history by becoming the first aboriginal woman to play professional hockey.”
Quewezance then called upon Lacquette to say a few words to the crowd, and she began by thanking everyone for being there.
Lacquette noted that the full realization of what an impact she has had on so many youth across Canada had become apparent after being part of the Olympics, and then having the opportunity to visit so many smaller communities across Canada had given her an insight into her function as a role model.
“I just want to be the best person, the best hockey player possible to show you guys that you can do it too, and it doesn’t matter where you come from,” she told the audience. “All of the obstacles that I have had to face have definitely been worth it to be awarded a silver medal at the Olympics.”
“I just want to say you can achieve anything through hard work and dedication.”
Grace was said by Louise Lulashnyk on behalf of her father, Bill Keshane Sr., 91, one of the original St. Philips Ranger players in the 1947-48 season.
After a buffet-style supper, Chief Calvin Straightnose welcomed Lacquette to Keeseekoose First Nation.
“It’s an honour to have such an athlete come to Keeseekoose First Nation. Bridgette Lacquette shows the determination of First Nation people; people who can do anything if they set their mind to it,” he said.
“It’s nice to see so many have come out this evening to meet this accomplished athlete whom so many had the chance to watch on TV during the PyeongChang Olympics. It is good to see the many children enjoying themselves this evening. Thank you all very much for coming.”
Poised and self-confident, Lacquette obliged her fans and posed for numerous photos, as well as signed a selection of fan memorabilia.
“All in event services” of Regina was on hand to take fan photos and print them almost immediately to provide a souvenir of the occasion.
Quewezance then announced that there would be some presentations made to Lacquette, on behalf of Keeseekoose First Nation.
“Brigette, I want to tell you something, from the bottom of our hearts; you have made us very proud.”
Chief Straightnose and council members then made several presentations to Lacquette. A pair of beaded earrings was presented by Cuthbert Keshane, a jacket by Henry Keshane and a framed photograph of her great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather, both of whom had strong ties to the game of hockey, by Chief Straightnose and Ralph Straightnose.
It was announced, with regrets that invited guest Fred Sasakamoose of the Ahtahkakoop Band of the Cree Nations, the first aboriginal man to play professional hockey in the National Hockey League (NHL) where he played with the Chicago Blackhawks, was unable to attend the event.
“I am very proud of her and happy that she made it this far,” said Anne Bryant of Cote First Nation who is Lacquette’s grandmother.
A large cake displaying a reproduced photo of Lacquette was then cut and served.
Before leaving, Lacquette said she would be returning to the area to do a similar meet-and-greet event at the Cote First Nation on May 11.