This week, ice rinks across Mississauga will heat up with the action of the Little Native Hockey League (LNHL) tournament returning to the region once again. With over 500 hockey games to be played between March 11th – 15th, organizers estimate approximately 3,500 participants will take part in this annual event with between 8 – 10,000 spectators taking in the action.
With a mission to lead, develop and promote a fun and positive hockey experience to Ontario First Nation Youth. The tournament is an opportunity to educate players about the values of fair play and sportsmanship, both on and off the ice, including respect for all citizens attending the LNHL.
Mississauga is once again host to the tournament, and will remain until its’ 50th Anniversary in 2021. The tournament begins with opening ceremonies and includes four days of competition concluding with the championship game. The pillars of the Little NHL are Sportsmanship, Education, Citizenship and Respect. Games will take place at arenas throughout Mississauga including Hersey Centre, Iceland Mississauga, Meadowvale Four Rinks, Tomken Arena and Carmen Corbasson Community Centre and Arena.
Little Native Hockey League (Little NHL) tournament was founded by five people who wanted to start a tournament for First Nation Youth:
- Earl Abotossaway
- former Chief Jim McGregor
- the late James D. Debassige
- the late Reverend Leonard Self
- the late Norman Debassige
Their collective dreams became a reality when they held their first tournament during the Christmas break in 1971 with 17 teams participating. Each year, the tournament gets bigger and better and is now the largest annually organized First Nations Event in the Province of Ontario.
Special dignitaries in attendance throughout the week of events will include Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Don Rusnak, Parliamentary Secretary, and Charlie Angus, MP.
Former NHL alumni in attendance during the tournament will include Jonathan Cheechoo, Ted Nolan, Bryan Trottier and Reggie Leach among others. As well, Fred Sasakamoose, the first ever aboriginal player to play in the NHL will be in attendance.
On Wednesday, March 14th, the tournament will put a special focus on the many female teams and role models at the tournament including former Canadian Gold medalists Becky Keller and Cheryl Pounder, who will deliver a keynote speech. As well, Brigette Lacquette, the first ever aboriginal female Canadian Olympic hockey player.
Welcome to all the players, families and officials of the LNHL and good luck to all the teams for an inspiring week ahead!