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Mistissini’s Israel Mianscum signed to Canadiens’ farm club

BY Patrick Quinn Jul 3, 2024

Mistissini and the Cree Nation were in full celebration mode June 5 following news that Israel Mianscum had been signed to the Montreal Canadiens organization. He will begin his professional hockey career with the Laval Rocket, the Habs’ farm team in the American Hockey League. 

Mianscum inked a two-year contract with the Rocket, two-way in 2024-25 and one-way in 2025-26. Two-way contracts are standard for entry level players, meaning that Mianscum will receive a higher salary if assigned to play with the NHL team but a lower one for playing in the minor league.

“I’m excited and honoured to have signed my first professional contract,” shared Mianscum in a post that quickly went viral throughout the Cree Nation. “Thank you to everyone that has helped me along the way, especially to my family.”

His hometown of Mistissini erupted in jubilation with the announcement, launching a community joy ride of vehicles parading through town led by a fire truck waving a huge Montreal Canadiens flag. It became evident that the Habs had gained many new Cree fans.  

The community released a statement sharing their pride in Mianscum’s accomplishments: “You’re an inspiration to many by having such ambitious dreams, and then putting in the hard work to achieve them.”

Indigenous hockey team Eastern Door & the North added, “Israel, you are a true inspiration for young hockey players from First Nations communities. Keep shining and lighting up the ice!”

Sources suggested that Mianscum had turned down offers from the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers before signing with the Canadiens affiliate, apparently preferring to remain closer to home. The 6-foot-2-inch, 202-pound star forward had just finished his fifth season with Sherbrooke Phoenix in the junior QMJHL, scoring 87 points in 61 games this year. 

“I am overwhelmed with joy,” posted his mother Tiffany Neeposh-Mianscum, who had organized an recognition feast for Israel’s 21st birthday on May 24 when he returned home after his successful hockey season. Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty was among the more than 200 guests and even volunteered to cut the cake. 

“Congratulations to Israel Mianscum,” stated the Grand Council of the Crees. “Your commitment to pursue your dreams, and the work you have dedicated to being a professional, both on and off the ice, is an inspiration to athletes across Eeyou Istchee. We look forward to cheering you on as a Nation in the coming years!”

Mianscum had attended development camps for the Canadiens in July 2022 and the Detroit Red Wings last summer, where he learned the skills needed to compete in the NHL. He plans to continue training in Montreal this summer along with former teammate Tyson Hinds. The family is also organizing a golf benefit in Gatineau to help with travel and training expenses.

Louie Mianscum had harvested numerous geese for his son’s annual feast, which also included bear, moose meat and moose heads. Israel had been in Saskatoon behind the bench with the Mistissini Warriors for the Chief Thunderstick National Hockey Championship, rehabilitating from a shoulder injury sustained before the QMJHL playoffs. 

“The last month he played, he was one of the few selected as the players of the month,” said the proud father. “Israel is always busy with his hockey but this year and last year he’s able to hunt a few days and always shoots some geese.”

Louie participated in the joy ride, “just enjoying the moment and seeing the support from the community,” and thanked Youth Chief Justice Debassige and the people of Mistissini for organizing the celebration. The Youth Council said Mianscum’s “passion for the sport is an inspiration for us all.”

It was an opportunity to reflect on his journey: skating since the age of two, spending long hours at the family’s backyard rink and first leaving home at age 11 to play with the Cree Nation Bears in Ouje-Bougoumou. 

“I know how hard he worked for it, so I felt that sense of relief that he’s almost settled,” Louie Mianscum told the Nation. “I was really rooting for him. It’s not my dream, it’s his dream. He’s on the right path. There are a lot of Habs fans in the Cree Nation – it is extra special.”

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Patrick Quinn lives in Montreal with his wife and two small children. With a passion for words and social justice, he enjoys sharing Eeyou Istchee's stories and playing music.