Quebec Court of Appeal refuses to dismiss Innu communities’ class-action | CTV News

Protest in front of Rio Tinto building in Montreal

Chief Real McKenzie, left, and Chief Mike McKenzie, right of the Innu Matimekush-Lac John band protest in front of the Rio Tinto building in Montreal, on Oct. 1, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Ryan Remiorz)

MONTREAL — The Quebec Court of Appeal has refused to hear a motion by the Iron Ore Co. of Canada and the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway Co. seeking to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by two Innu communities.

The Innu First Nations of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam (Uashaunnuat) and Matimekush-Lac John claim the IOC, which is majority owned by Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO), has violated their rights for nearly 60 years and are seeking $900 million in compensation.

They allege the companies have been running a large mining complex and railway on traditional territory in northeastern Quebec and Labrador since the 1950s without prior consent.

The operations are located in the communities of Schefferville, Labrador City and Sept-Iles.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard rejected IOC’s claim that the Innu had to sue the government instead of the company in a ruling in September.

The Innu claim the mines and other facilities have ruined the environment, displaced members from their territory and prevented them from practising their traditional way of life. They also said the 578-kilometre railway between Schefferville and Sept-Iles has opened up their territory to “numerous other destructive development projects.”

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Rio Tinto owns a 58.7 per cent sake in IOC, followed by Mitsubishi with 26.2 per cent and Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corp. (TSX:LIF) at 15.1 per cent, which also receives a royalty on all IOC iron ore sales.

The Innu communities have reached agreements with miners ArcelorMittal, Cliffs Natural Resources, Tata Steel, New Millennium Iron and Labrador Iron Mines (TSX:LIM) that provide financial compensation for the mining activities.

Schefferville, Que., says it’s not ready for a mining boom – Montreal – CBC News

The town of Schefferville, Que., said the mining boom is straining the remote northern community’s infrastructure, and it needs help from the provincial government to support the sudden influx of temporary workers.

Schefferville is in northeastern Quebec — a community due north of Sept-Îles that has no road access, just a few kilometres from the Labrador border.

It was built near rich iron deposits along what’s known as the Labrador Trough.

The mine pits were abandoned about 30 years ago, but a spike in iron prices in 2011 sparked interest in the old sites, and mining companies have returned to the region.

The town population has doubled with “fly-in/fly-out” workers — mining employees who don’t live in town, but fly in for several days, then return home when they get time off.

Province should pay for new infrastructure, said town

Schefferville administrator Paul Joncas wants provincial money to pay for major infrastructure investment.

Schefferville

The administration of Schefferville is warning the town can’t afford $25M in infrastructure investments it needs to support a mining boom. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)

“We have work to do on the drinking water system, the sewage system, the infrastructure,” he said.

“When the price [of ore] goes up, the mining companies are coming back and they want to go fast.”

Joncas estimates it would cost about $25 million to fix the roads, drinking water and sewage systems. That’s too large a burden for the local taxpayers, he said.

The town of 230 has an annual budget of $1.8 million.

Joncas said the companies that use Schefferville’s services don’t pay industrial taxes because all their mining activities are in Labrador, but he said it’s just a matter of time before the companies start digging in Quebec.

Joncas said the town is so ill-prepared for a local boom now, it would be “madness” if there was one.

Proposed Plan Nord leaves Schefferville out

Gilles Porlier is a longtime resident of Schefferville who owns many businesses in town. He is frustrated with the so-called Plan Nord, the province’s plan to develop natural resources in northern Quebec.

Gilles Porlier

Local businessman Gilles Porlier says he doesn’t believe Plan Nord is good for Schefferville.

“There is no PlanNord in Schefferville,”Porlier said.

However, Joncas said he’s hopeful as the Plan Nord moves forward, the province will come up with solutions to help towns like his, because the current system isn’t nimble enough to react quickly, to get the most out of mining’s boom cycles.

“I think they don’t adapt all the regulations to the mining boom,” he said of the government. “And with the Société du Plan Nord, I think they will do exactly that.”

The province has set up a Plan Nord Society to determine how best to develop Quebec’s north in conjunction with communities that are already there.

Iron Ore Company of Canada lays off 150 miners in Labrador City | CTV News

Wabush mine

The Wabush mine is shown in a Sept.6, 2012 file photo from the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Natural Resources. An administrative assistant and a safety officer were both let go along with about 500 other workers who lost their jobs when the Wabush iron ore mine closed. (Supplied Photo / The Canadian Press)

LABRADOR CITY, N.L. — News that the Iron Ore Company of Canada is laying off 150 workers from its mine in Labrador City is the latest blow for a hard-hit region, says Mayor Karen Oldford.

“It’s very difficult times already with the closure of Wabush Mines and Bloom Lake, and the trickle-down effect in our industry,” she said Thursday in an interview.

The company says the layoffs are indefinite and take effect June 14.

“It’s going to mean more difficult times ahead for the families and those that are impacted, which will be the whole community,” Oldford said.

Housing prices have dropped and food bank use is up in Labrador West. Well paid jobs have evaporated since Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. blamed high costs and nose-diving commodity values for shutdowns at Wabush Mines and its nearby Bloom Lake mine in Quebec.

About 2,000 people work at the IOC site in Labrador City.

The company in a statement Thursday cited the fall this week of iron ore prices to a low of $47.50 per tonne. It said that trend is expected to continue.

“Our operating costs need to go down even more to make us viable and IOC has taken steps to implement a number of changes as we strive to save as many jobs as possible.”

About 1,200 members of the local United Steelworkers union in February voted overwhelmingly against IOC’s request that they give up a four-per-cent wage increase.

The union said the company is making big profits despite slumping prices and could save cash by cutting contract workers.

Global mining giant Rio Tinto is IOC’s majority shareholder. Rio Tinto is among the biggest multinational players stepping up iron ore output, particularly from its Australian mines, increasing exports last year as supply gluts drove down prices and squeezed higher-cost producers.

Critics have called it a concerted effort by major producers to boost market share as iron ore prices fell by about 60 per cent over the last year. Slower growth in China and less demand for steel has added to the oversupply.

Illegal caribou hunt under investigation; Quebec Innu take responsibility – Newfoundland & Labrador – CBC News

Wildlife officers had travelled to the area and determined a number of caribou had been killed and are investigating the illegal hunt.

Dwindling caribou numbers in the Labrador region have been a concern for years, prompting government to impose some bans on hunting herds of caribou.

However, Levesque said the Pakua Shipi Innu have hunted caribou in the region for centuries, adding it’s their way of life and a significant part of their culture.

“That’s what they did all their lives. Their father, their grandfather, for centuries they’ve been hunting caribou,” he said. “Telling the Pakua Shipi Innu not to hunt is like telling them not to breathe.”

Wildlife officials are investigating the illegal hunting and killing of a number of caribou in the Birch Lake region in southern Labrador.

Wildlife officials are investigating the illegal hunting and killing of a number of caribou in the Birch Lake region in southern Labrador. (Submitted by Sherry Jesso)

Wildlife officers are investigating the illegal slaughter of caribou in the Birch Lake region in southern Labrador earlier this week, with a representative of a Quebec Innu group stepping forward to claim responsibility for the hunt.

Newfoundland and Labrador fish and wildlife officers received a complaint from the public Monday, alleging caribou were being hunted illegally.

On Friday, Francois Levesque, the lawyer for the Pakua Shipi Innu from Quebec’s Lower North Shore, said about 20 hunters were responsible for the hunt, but added that the action will not harm the herd.

Levesque added the hunters bring the meat back to their community and share it as it’s needed with other members.

While he said the Innu are “of course” worried about the declining caribou herds, the Innu hunt is not the cause.

“The decline has reasons and these reason is probably years and years of projects, of mining, of cutting trees, of commercial hunting,” said Levesque.

“They kill thousands of caribou, the American tourists. Why don’t you worry about that?”

Levesque added there aren’t other options available to the community when it comes to getting fresh meat, because there’s no access to a grocery story.

A ferry will bring in frozen meat occasionally, he said, but the cost to purchase isn’t something residents can afford.

The justice department declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.

Mistissini cabin fire kills 5 in northern Quebec – Montreal – CBC News

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come names men who died, describes community’s loss as ‘unfathomable’

Chiiwetin Coonishish was among five hunters from Mistissini killed in a cabin fire in northern Quebec.

Chiiwetin Coonishish was among five hunters from Mistissini killed in a cabin fire in northern Quebec. (Facebook)

The Cree community of Mistissini in northern Quebec is mourning the deaths of five men in a cabin fire.

The men were on a hunting trip north of the town, according to Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come of the Grand Council of the Crees.

In a statement, Coon Come gave the men’s names as:

  • David Jimiken.
  • Emmett Coonishish.
  • Chiiwetin Coonishish.
  • Kevin Loon.
  • Charlie Gunner.

Charlie Gunner

Charlie Gunner was among the five men who died in the fire, according to the head of the Grand Council of the Crees. (Facebook)

Mistissini, with a population of about 3,400, is 785 kilometres north of Montreal and home to the Cree Nation of Mistissini.

A snowmobiler came across the burned cabin Wednesday afternoon near Lake Bussy, according to Quebec provincial police, although when the fire occurred isn’t clear.

Sgt. Claude Denis said police used a search plane to find the cabin, located in a remote stretch of wilderness about 300 kilometres north of Chibougamau.

Investigators arrived at the scene around 10 a.m. ET on Thursday. The cottage was destroyed in the fire, Denis said.

“At a time of such unfathomable loss, we can only express our deepest sympathies to the families, and pray that the knowledge of the full support of the entire Cree Nation will help in some way in providing comfort and easing the terrible pain they are suffering,” Coon Come said.

“May their memories be a blessing and a source of sustenance as we collectively come to terms with this frightful occurrence.”

Mistissini

Five Cree hunters died after the cabin they were staying was completely destroyed by fire. (Quebec provincial police)

Tributes also poured in on social media.

A message posted on a Facebook page for Mistissini youth remembered Coonishish as being passionate about his culture, as well as a good hunter who “respected the land.”

Gunner was awarded a Medal of Bravery by the Governor General in 2013.

Premier Philippe Couillard, who was in Quebec City on Thursday, also offered his condolences to the community.

Family of rescued Natuashish snowmobilers cried ‘tears of joy’

  • The two men — ages 20 and 25 — who went missing during a snowmobile trip near Natuashish in Labrador used a second can of gas to start a fire in the woods to keep warm until searchers found them.
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There has been a successful conclusion to a search for two young men who went missing following a snowmobile trip from Hopedale to their homes in Natuashish.

The men — 20-year-old Troy Rich and 25-year-old Gilbert Rich — were found Tuesday shortly after 10 a.m., after a helicopter discovered the pair walking towards Natuashish, about 10 nautical miles south on Sango Bay.

George Rich

George Rich, Gilbert Rich’s father, says there were plenty of tears of joy shed after learning the two young men were found safe. (Submitted by George Rich)

​The two men left Hopedale around 7:30 p.m. Sunday on a journey that would normally take two to two-and-a-half hours.

Soon after learning of the missing men, residents of Natuashish began a ground search Sunday night, enlisting multiple helicopters and search teams.

“I stayed awake all night. I stayed awake all morning,” said George Rich, father of Gilbert Rich.

“I was thinking I was going crazy for a while until my wife calmed me down. I couldn’t think straight. I was going to search myself in the snow squalls but a lot of people stopped me from doing that.”

Took turns staying awake

While worry was mounting in Natuashish and Hopedale, the cousins were stuck in the middle of a snowstorm, with no gas in their snowmobile.

“They [didn’t] panic at all. They just used their knowledge of the outdoors to clear the snow away and build up enough fire wood for the night,” George Rich said.

Rich said his son and his cousin were familiar with the landscape and took turns sleeping by the fire on Sunday and Monday nights.

The pair did have an extra can of gas, but because they couldn’t travel during the storm they used the remaining gas to start a fire.

Back at home, George Rich and his family began praying for the safe return of the two men, often getting updates from Hopedale’s fire chief and the RCMP.

‘Yesterday was [a] really, really stressful time for us as a family. We just couldn’t take it. It was just wait and wait and wait.’- George Rich

“They went as far as Hopedale and they didn’t see any tracks,” Rich said.

“Yesterday was [a] really, really stressful time for us as a family. We just couldn’t take it. It was just wait and wait and wait.”

Once the snowstorm moved out of the area, the men began walking to their home community, eventually being spotted by a helicopter overhead.

No medical attention was needed.

Happy homecoming

“It was a really, really happy moment. My sister and I, and all my brothers were crying for joy, and they told us our son would be here in a few minutes,” George Rich told CBC News. “Our prayers had been answered.”

Gilbert Rich was greeted by his family immediately after stepping through his front door Tuesday morning.

Besides being tired, Rich’s father said the young man was in good shape. He spent most of the day sleeping.

NunatsiaqOnline 2015-03-26: NEWS: Innu Meshkenu walkers arrive in Kuujjuaq

The Innu Meshkenu project's 19 walkers and eight technicians/guides pose for a photo ahead of their arrival in Kuujjuaq March 25. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MATHIEU GRAVEL)
The Innu Meshkenu project’s 19 walkers and eight technicians/guides pose for a photo ahead of their arrival in Kuujjuaq March 25. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MATHIEU GRAVEL)

When the community of Kuujjuaq first came into view March 24, Dr. Stanley Vollant fell to his knees. Then he cried.

When Vollant and 18 other Innu, Naskapi and Inuit left Matimekush (Schefferville) on foot 27 days earlier, Kuujjuaq had seemed like a world away.

More than 450 kilometres later, the site of the Nunavik community was a welcome one for the group of tired walkers.

“This is it,” Vollant recalled. “It was very emotional.”

The group spent the night about eight km outside of town, before walking the final leg and arriving to a group of family, friends and well-wishers along the frozen Koksoak River March 25.

Vollant, Quebec’s first Innu surgeon, has walked thousands of kilometres between Aboriginal communities across eastern Canada as part of his Innu Meshkenu project, to promote physical activity and healthy living among Aboriginal people.

But this walk was Vollant’s first overland journey onto Inuit territory; even a first for its three young Inuit walkers Michael Petagumskum, Brian Kauki and Elijah Etok, and two Inuit guides, Norman Cooper and Willie Kulula Jr.

It might have been his coldest, too. Many in the group succumbed to frostbite.

“It was the most difficult expedition I’ve organized so far — I’ll never forget it,” Vollant said.

“But this was an historic event because no one has walked this trail in 60 years,” he explained. “For us, it was like walking in the footsteps of our Innu, Naskapi and Inuit ancestors.”

The hunting and trading route between Schefferville and Ungava Bay has long served as a link between Innu and Inuit families.

Elders say the last group to cover the distance on foot may have been the Naskapi, who migrated from Kuujjuaq — then Fort Chimo — to the iron-ore town of Schefferville in 1956.

“It was tough at first, having to walk so much,” said 20-year-old Petagumskum of Kuujjuaq. “But we were taking it day by day.”

The group set goals of completing 23 kilometres each day, but that depended on weather and the group’s energy level, he said. On top of walking, the group had to set up camp, prepare food and melt snow for water.

“Every morning our water bottles were frozen, and we had to defrost them,” Petagumskum said. “Sometimes I told myself, why I am doing this?”

“But then I thought, if I can do this, I can do anything,” he said. “And it’s a very good experience — you get to see your land and it’s pure.”

Since he returned home to Kuujjuaq March 25, Petagumskum is still running on adrenaline. He’s already called the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., to kick-start the application process to get into the school’s Aboriginal leadership program this summer.

And that’s exactly the impact Vollant hopes his walks will have on youth in the communities he visits.

On March 26, Vollant and Petagumskum will visit Kuujjuaq’s Pitakallak and Jaanimmarik schools.

“That’s the goal of these trips — to talk to these kids,” Vollant said. “And I’ll tell them: you have to believe in your dreams and never give up on them.”

“All the great men and women of this world were able to rise up over obstacles to realize their dreams.”

Vollant will take with him what he considers his most powerful tool: a walking stick an elder gave him years ago, which has accompanied him on all of his walks.

“Over the last few years, more than 3,000 youth have put their dreams into that stick,” he said. “So I’m going to ask every youth I meet in Kuujjuaq to put their dreams in there too.”jjuaq.

4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation | SIL International

(March 2015) “Enriching theory, practice, and application” was the theme of the 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC4). The 26 February-1 March event was hosted by the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. With an attendance of nearly 450, this year’s meeting was the largest to date.

Bill Jancewicz’s poster communicates findings about grammatical awareness and adult literacy in the Naskapi community of Canada.

The conference organizers’ goal was to move beyond theory to practical application that will benefit the communities who speak endangered languages. The event was designed to strengthen the links between language documentation (practice), deep understanding of grammatical structure (theory), and methods for teaching endangered languages (pedagogy).

Several SIL linguists were among those who presented research throughpapers and poster sessions.

  • Jim Ellis: “Bridging the gap between linguistic resources and meaningful written material”
  • Bill Jancewicz: “Developing Naskapi grammatical awareness and its effect on adult literacy”
  • Melinda Lyons with William P. Rivers of JNCL-NCLIS*: “Documenting languages not included in the ISO language codes: The role of language documentation specialists in improving a request to code an uncoded language”
  • Becky Paterson: “Contribution of women to linguistic vitality in northwestern Nigeria” and “Gamification of Rapid Word Collection”
  • Hugh Paterson: “Assessing the difficulty of the text input task for minority languages” and “Lexical dataset archiving: An assessment of practice”
  • Kathleen Sackett: “Workshop design for developing picture dictionaries in the Caucasus”

SIL’s SayMore software was presented by Sarah Moeller of the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL) with a presentation entitled, “Developments in SayMore: The language documentation tool for citizen scientists.” The session was attended by people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines—linguists, mother-tongue speakers of endangered languages, archivists and software developers were all part of the standing-room-only crowd that gathered to learn more about the software. Moeller has observed that while the methods of language documentation are not difficult to learn, some technical aspects deter people from becoming involved in documenting their languages. File management, dealing with metadata and intimidating archiving processes are among the challenges faced by would-be documenters. Moeller sees great promise in SayMore as a tool for meeting the technical needs of documentation in a user-friendly way.

* Joint National Committee for Languages & National Council for Languages and International Studies

First Cry ceremony takes root in Eeyou Istchee, Northern Quebec – Aboriginal – CBC

Matthew Iserhoff, Legend's father, is passionate about bringing back traditional ceremonies, and learning new ones.

Matthew Iserhoff, Legend’s father, is passionate about bringing back traditional ceremonies, and learning new ones. (Mukash family)

A newborn girl, named Legend, is passed from one person to the next, each one telling her what they will do for her in their lifetime.

This is part of the First Cry ceremony,  welcoming newborns to the earth in the presence of the parents’ most trusted family and friends.

Danielle Mukash carries the ceremony, and Legend is her granddaughter. Danielle says it is normal that the baby cry, because she is saying goodbye to heaven for awhile.

“The First Cry ceremony has been done for thousands of years, and the reason why we do this ceremony is that a child that comes into the world is totally pure, but still connected to heaven … We have to honour their arrival to this world,” ” says Mukash.

Mukash grew in Odanak, an Abenaki community on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. That’s where the First Cry ceremony was passed on to her by her grandmother, Lillian Pitawanakwat.

Residential schools and church leaders in some aboriginal communities banned traditional ceremonies,  and many were forgotten over the past century. But through dreams and visions they are slowly making their way back into Cree culture, says Mukash.

First Cry Story

Danielle Mukash holds her granddaughter Legend. In the First Cry ceremony, the newborn is passed from one person to the next, each one telling her what they will do for her in their lifetime. (Mukash Family )

“It had been forgotten for a long time. I know from experience that ceremonies come back to us when we need them, and they come from the Creator for all of us.”

Mukash married a Cree man from Whapmagoostui, the northern-most Cree community on the Hudson Bay coast.

When their grandchildren were born, Danielle began to perform the First Cry ceremony and since then more and more Cree people have shown an interest in the tradition. Danielle believes the ceremony may have been practised by the Cree people in the distant past but there is no way of confirming that.

Legend’s ceremony is only the third time in recent history that First Cry has been performed in the Cree communities of Northern Quebec.

Matthew Iserhoff is Legend’s father and has taken part in other Cree ceremonies such as the Sundance. He’s passionate about bringing back traditions, and learning new ones.

“The Cree word for child, wash, comes from the word awashthahch, or light. The child comes from a place of light, the home of the Creator, to come to theeEarth.”

Like her son-in-law, Danielle Mukash works to keep the traditions alive.

“All my life, my dad would tell us stories about ceremonies”, she says. “It was so close to my heart, wanting to preserve all the beautiful things the Creator gave us for thousands of years.”

Danielle Mukash says she hopes that more people in Eeyou Istchee, the Cree territory in Northern Quebec,  will adopt this powerful ceremony.

And she is open to performing First Cry for other families in her community.

Basketball tournament in remote Quebec community a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience – Montreal – CBC News

The Jimmy Sandy Memorial School boys’ Hawks won a banner during the annual Central Quebec School Board tournament. The team faced off against the team from McLean Memorial School in Chibougamau.<br />

The Jimmy Sandy Memorial School boys’ Hawks won a banner during the annual Central Quebec School Board tournament. The team faced off against the team from McLean Memorial School in Chibougamau. (Submitted by Shannon Uniam)

In between basketball games at the Central Quebec School Board tournament this weekend, Christian Thibault and his teammates were introduced to traditions that have served the Naskapi for generations.

The tournament, the first of its kind ever held in the northern Quebec First Nations community, aimed to knit together two worlds through sport and tradition.

High school students from across central Quebec took part in workshops that included caribou skinning and butchering, ptarmigan plucking and ice fishing.

“I’m taking full of advantage since I’ve never done this and I’ll probably never do it again,” Thibault, a Secondary 4 student, said while plucking snow-white ptarmigan with two Naskapi women.

The tournament was held at the board’s northernmost school, Jimmy Sandy Memorial School, in the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach, located near the Labrador border, about 15 kilometres from Schefferville.

Students said they left Schefferville with a better understanding of First Nations communities and the Naskapi culture after the “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

Girls team hawks Jimmy Sandy Memorial School

The Jimmy Sandy Memorial School girls’ Hawks face off against a team from Three Rivers Academy. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)

Some admitted they arrived in the community with cliché ideas about aboriginal people.

“[I had heard] that people are lazy. And they are not. I just saw firsthand at the game they all try really hard,” 16-year-old Cédrick Perreault said.

He plans to return to Kawawchikamach next summer with two classmates to learn more about the Naskapi ways.

Hoop dream to reality

Hosting the tournament in Kawawchikamach was the brainchild of the former principal of Jimmy Sandy Memorial, Curtis Tootoosis. He had been dreaming about it for a decade but only managed to sell the school board on the idea last year.

It cost about $190,000 to host the tournament. The money came from school surpluses, Ministry of Education grants for cultural exchanges, a gift from the Naskpi Band Council and donations.

Much of the organization fell into the hands of the former vice-principal, Joanne Strasser, who took over Tootoosis position as principal in January.

Basketball CQSB tournament ice fishing

A group of students try their hand at ice fishing in between games at the weekend basketball tournament. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)

“I think they finally see us more than the school from the north with the First Nations kids,” she said.

“They see us as everyday kids but they have a better perspective of where we are coming from and the difficulties and the lifestyle that we lead.”

Community pride

Students from Jimmy Sandy Memorial have always had to travel outside of the community to participate in tournaments, so their parents and friends never have the opportunity to see them play.

During local games at this weekend’s tournament, the spectator side of the gym was so full, some fans’ feet were on the court.

Caribou skinning basketball tournament first nations

Between games, students took part in cultural activities that included learning to skin a caribou. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)

Naomi Einish took the day off work to watch her daughter play for the Jimmy Sandy Memorial Hawks.

“I’m proud of her, win or lose she’s a winner to me,” she said.

Her daughter, Secondary 1 student Ruby-Jade Jake, said being able to play in front of friends and family made her “feel proud. For once.”

That comment brought tears to the eyes of several teachers and staff members.

The tournament may have been driven by competition, but being able to play in front of loved ones was definitely exciting for the young players, said coach Cory Meehan.

“That’s the cherry on top of this whole basketball cake,” she said.

‘Everyone is ecstatic’

The boys’ team from Jimmy Sandy Memorial ​won a banner in the B-division of the tournament.

“I think you can tell on everybody’s faces in the crowd or on my team that everyone is ecstatic,” said coach Kyle Schroeder.

Shane Peastitute,15, was all smiles as he carried his seven-month-old daughter on the court after the game.

“I feel great! I’m happy she’s here to watch me play,” he said.

Peastitute won the most valuable player award on his team.

Strasser said all the planning and preparation paid off and the weekend was a great success.

The principal said she hopes the tournament comes back to her community one day.

“But not next year,” she added.

Shane Peastitute Hawks’ MVP basketball tournament CQSB

Shane Peastitute, the Hawks’ MVP, proudly carried his seven-month-old daughter out onto the court after winning a banner for his school. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)