When I was younger my Gokmis compared me to an orca; I was constantly moving around, making new friends and connections in every new place I lived but no matter what I would always make my way home. When I was fifteen I moved away from home to play hockey. Ultimately, playing hockey was something I wanted to do since I was a little kid, and unfortunately the only way to do it was to move away from home. I spent most of my teenage years playing competitive hockey and billeting with families I didn’t know along the way. During that time, because of our rigorous schedule I wasn’t able to go home for long periods of time. The four years I spent playing in the OHL brought me to many, different cities all over Ontario, and was very demanding on my life. At age 15, I didn’t feel grounded, and although I loved my position in life, I longed for the day that I could be home with my family, in the place that I grew up. Covid allowed me that privilege.
Although covid has negatively affected the world and its people in a lot of different ways, I feel lucky that I was able to in some ways benefit from quarantine and isolation. For most people covid felt isolating, and confined people to their house. But it allowed me to spend quality time in my hometown with my family which was much needed after years of living with different families. Isolation was a lot different for me because I was living on a reserve and I could still go outside without putting anyone’s safety at risk, and do all of the
things that I couldn’t do in the years past because of hockey. This past spring and summer I got back to my indigenous roots and took part in a lot of activities in nature that I used to do as a child. For example, I went out fishing on the lake almost every day. Sitting in the sun in isolation in my boat was a form of therapy for me! And it didn’t hurt to catch a couple pickerel along the way. I was also able to spend time in the bush hunting and just enjoying the serenity of the outdoors.
Once lockdown was over I discovered a new passion for golf, and with nothing being open and nothing else to do, I spent days on the golf course by myself learning this new game that I probably would’ve never came across if covid didn’t happen. Golf has taught me a lot about being mentally strong, a quality that will transfer into a lot of what I do in the future.
Without being introduced to golf, I would’ve missed out on one of my new favourite activities. I only wish that I discovered this game years ago! Between golf and outdoor activities, I also spent my summer taking addition course to complete my degree.
I was fortunate enough to not have any people close to me experience covid and be affected by its symptoms. I read on the news everyday about people who’s lives were torn apart from loss and sickness of friends and family but I was lucky enough to not experience that personally. I personally didn’t feel unsafe from Covid based on the place that I lived but I did feel some fear for the older people that I love. My Gokmis and Grandpa were in the vulnerable age population and I was worried for them and urged them to stay inside. They were practically isolated to their homes (as was a lot of the population) and were unable to see friends and family. This also made me think about their parents and grandparents who experienced oppression from people who isolated them to a small portion of land. Back in the day Indigenous people were forced to
live in small, unwanted pieces of land and had to ask permission to be able to go into town. If I look at it from their perspective, I see a lot of parallels to present times.
Of course covid does bring a lot of negative affects and I did feel some of them. With the hockey season being cancelled, and most arenas and gyms in the country closed, I was able to do a lot of things that I wouldn’t have been able to do in a regular summer. Although this was in some ways good, it made me miss hockey, and unfortunately made me miss a key training period for me. My hockey took a step back, and even now I am trying to catch up on the training I missed. Even now it’s hard to try and get better with no end goal in sight.
Unfortunately, this hockey season being cancelled is a big shift for me from having games every weekend last year. I having to stay disciplined which involves a lot of mental toughness, and try to look at the bigger picture. Hockey is still something I love and am constantly trying to improve at.
I have been playing hockey for UPEI for the past 3 years and I was very upset when our National Championship Tournament, something I have been looking forward to for a long time, got pushed back by two years. Since I’m graduating next year, I have to make the difficult decision of coming back to UPEI for a fifth year to participate in this tournament that was supposed to happen this year. It is disappointing to think that I could possibly miss out on one of the biggest championships in sports because of this pandemic. But, I still do have the possibility of playing in it which is something for me to look forward to. However, to do so I will have to stretch out the rest of my courses to span over an extra year. Although I am in no hurry to graduate and get into the workforce, this could put a damper on my plans to play hockey internationally in the future.
I know the covid has affected some people in very negative ways, and I feel bad for the ones it has, But I have always been one to try to make the best out of bad situations. I believe this attitude has allowed me to venture out from the comfort of my small First Nation in Northern Ontario to the many places I have been in my life.