Hockey Indigenous receives Herbert Carnegie Trailblazer Award
Hockey fan Stephane Friday started his Hockey Indigenous Facebook page four years ago with the intention of growing the game in the Indigenous community by sharing news about Indigenous teams, communities and players.
The site, which has more than 44,000 followers, has grown beyond sharing the news to making news.
Friday, who is Cree from the Kashechewan First Nation in northeastern Ontario, will be one of seven people to be honored with the Herbert Carnegie Trailblazer Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as part of the Carnegie Initiative’s CI Summit, 20-22. January.
The Herbert Carnegie Trailblazer Award, from The Carnegie Initiative and partner Canadian Tire Corporation, is presented to people “who use the sport as a vehicle to create positive social change, embodying CI’s mission to ensure that hockey is inclusive, supportive and welcoming to all ,” according to the Carnegie Initiative website.
The award and initiative are named after Toronto’s Herb Carnegie, a hockey player who broke barriers as a member of the only “All Black Line” in semi-pro leagues in the 1940s. He also established the first registered hockey school in Canada called Future Aces.
The road to a successful Facebook page was not easy, according to Friday. The original page, which had 36,000 followers, was hacked in 2020.
Friday’s partner Abigail Linklater, a member of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation in Northern Ontario, pushed him to start a new page.
“When his old site got hacked it was devastating but I encouraged him,” she said.
“Let’s not bring this down. Let’s just start over.”
The name changed from Indigenous Hockey to Hockey Indigenous, but the dedication of Friday and Linklater only grew.
“The more I kept posting, the more reach I would get, people started following and supporting the page,” he said.
“What we did was we started from zero, then we moved up again, and within a year from that moment we got it all back and then some.”
On any given day, Hockey Indigenous might post the latest updates on Montreal Canadiens goaltender and Ulkatcho First Nation member Carey Price or an article about a pee team from a First Nations community.
Friday’s next step will be to incorporate the organization.
“My vision is to get a board going, to get support from First Nations, get a resolution at AFN so we can get recognition as a First Nations organization to get funding to establish a prominent organization to help our youth ,” he said.