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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Worshipping in the one true church

BY Sonny Orr Apr 11, 2023

The crowd roared and the foot stomping shook the arena to its foundations as the puck neared the net. The goalie stood on his head, displaying gymnastic skills that any contortionist would envy. Despite his efforts, the puck blasted past him at high speed – and exited straight through the net.

No one noticed and the play continued. But the player who scored the goal displayed his disbelief. Later, the referees thoroughly checked the net, only to declare it a no goal. One witness asked me if, in my opinion, there was a goal. I said yes, but I was only another agitated disciple of Canada’s true religion: hockey.

Yep, it’s tourney time again in the Great White North and now it’s Whapmagoostui’s turn to host a tournament for the older teams. Just a month earlier, a much younger group of teams came to partake in events that led to more youth skating to glory or hitting a broomball with a deadly broom. 

Good conduct and fair sportsmanship were practiced with only a few mishaps and tumbles with the referees. Which recalled a roughing penalty for most members of both teams as a flurry of blows and body slams dominated one broomball game, in which the referee was ejected from a mass of tangled bodies on the ice. Worthy of 10,000 views in my opinion.

I wonder if curling would ever catch on here as it is a strategic game played with finesse. I can almost hear the tea being sipped while the commentator calmly calls the plays: “And there it goes, the rock spinning out of control landing in dead centre. It’s suicide for a rock to sit there out in the open. Any player with marginal sniper skills could knock it out with their eyes closed and one arm tied.” 

The announcer emits a strong sipping sound like a sloppy slurp indicating that this shot could end someone’s career in the curling big leagues. Eventually, a critical shot knocks out all the rocks from the circle and the score doesn’t change. Again. Sip, sip, sip. Hey, I thought this game was supposed to be enjoyed with some Scottish dark beer. I guess tea takes the edge off the frosty breath and the players’ team effort sweeping the ice. 

If only I could practice curling at home with a sturdy broom and clean out the sand during off season. I could turn into a tea-sipping superstar curler.

But as with all dreams, they could be dashed with just a few mistakes. The next thing you know, you’re branded forever while becoming a TikTok sensation – the curler from the North who dared sweep with gusto. One who slid into the limelight because of a total rock demolition play where only your stone remained at the final throw. 

You could compare that with any highlight-reel hat trick. But would it get you the lucrative sponsorship deals? Does anyone still sip tea or slosh back a Guinness beer anymore? Who knows? You could be the next curling superstar.

My fantasy slipped back into obscurity as I realized that the masses don’t really appreciate a game that requires brains over brawn, finesse over roughing, or quiet screams over the roar of a bloodthirsty crowd that needs to vent its animosity for the opposing team. I continued to sip my tea in peace as the screaming fans brought me back to reality to witness a real goal, a winning one this time. 

Which made the arena shake again. Yep, it’s good to vent once in a while. 

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.