Back-to-normal feeling as Membertou First Nation hosts national hockey tournament

The best indigenous hockey players in Canada — male and female — are on Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton this week, where the puck dropped Monday on the 2022 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.

"It certainly will leave a lot of money here. I don't know exactly what, but I think it's in the millions — a couple of million, anyway,” said Membertou Chief Terry Paul.

Paul says hosting the event is a big win for his community, particularly after this year's Telus Cup was moved from Membertou to Calgary at the last minute because of COVID-19 concerns.

"When they decided not to have it in Saskatchewan because of the outbreaks and that, they pretty well thought about Membertou almost immediately,” Paul said.

“They were hoping that we would be prepared to host it this quickly, and of course, we're always prepared."

The tournament was also a big success when it was held in Membertou four years ago. It was a big boost then to the new rink, and the local economy — the same is true now.

“It's the first national event we've held since we last held this event in 2018,” said Paul Carroll, general manager of the Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre, where the tournament is being held.

"Not only for us, we're benefiting, but the spinoffs for the hotels and the restaurants and the taxis and the shops, it's a huge economic impact."

Also in attendance this week are members of the organizing committee for the 2023 National Aboriginal Hockey Championship in Manitoba.

The players taking part came from coast to coast, and for some, it’s their first time visiting Nova Scotia.

"I mean, I've never been here before. It's a beautiful spot,” said Kyle Garland of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador.

It was Kenady Christensen of team Manitoba’s first time on the east coast.

“It's nice to see a new landscape,” said Christensen.

The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships wrap up on Saturday.