team started in 1978 and competed around the world
Sagkeeng Oldtimers team in 1993. The team holds titles in
the 1987 World Cup, 1989 World Cup in Munich and in the 1987
Canadian National Cup. (submitted)
A special collection of artifacts from a northern Manitoba hockey
team made up of residential school survivors is headed to the Hockey
Hall of Fame Museum in Toronto.
The items including jerseys, banners and special memorabilia
from the Sagkeeng Oldtimers team are being donated by Darlene
Ahmo, the daughter of team founder Walter Fontaine and manager Verna
"They had a dream of doing something really special for
their lives and for the lives of other survivors. They had a lot
of dedication, hard work and they made a lot of sacrifices,"
"They really accomplished a lot."
The team was formed in 1978 by Ahmo's parents, who both spent
about nine years in residential school.
from the Sagkeeng Oldtimers was donated to the Hockey Hall
of Fame Museum in Toronto. (submitted)
"They wanted to do something really special, I guess, in
terms of dealing with what happened to them in residential school
because that was huge," she said.
"They never really wanted to talk about it personally,
but they wanted to do something for themselves that would help them
overcome in trying to deal with what they had gone through."
The team was made up of players from the Sagkeeng First Nation,
a community 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, ranging in age
from 35 to over 50. Most of the players were also residential school
Hockey was a way to bring the community members, particularly
the survivors, together. But they also started building a reputation
for their skills on the ice.
The team played in tournaments across Canada and the United
States as well as in Denmark, Germany, England and France.
The team holds titles in the 1987 World Cup, 1989 World Cup
in Munich and in the 1987 Canadian National Cup.
The Fontaines led the fundraising and organization of the team
and Ahmo said she learned a lot from her parents' dedication.
"I saw, over the years, all the hard work and what my parents
did and [how they] wanted to do something really positive,"
she said, holding back tears.
Walter Fontaine and manager Vera Fontaine helped raise funds
for the Sagkeeng Oldtimers. (submitted)
"I saw how they managed and how they worked, and it taught
me a lot of values and left a lot of good things for me. It's kind
of overwhelming. It's good, it's really good."
Both of her parents have since passed away, but Ahmo said their
story found its way to the hall of fame through the Truth and Reconciliation
During the Edmonton TRC hearing in 2014, Ahmo's cousin, Theodore
Fontaine, spoke about how the team and hockey helped his family
and community find healing. He also donated some of the hockey team's
artifacts to the commission.
Ahmo said someone from the Hockey Hall of Fame heard the story
and reached out, wanting to find out more information about the
It wasn't until this summer that Ahmo learned her parents' legacy
and community's team would actually go into the hall of fame. She
said it means a lot to her family, but it's also important for the
history of the sport.
She is particularly excited to include the Sagkeeng Oldtimers
crest, which was designed by Ojibway artist Joe Land and represents
the free spirit and resilience of the players and their supporters.
She will be delivering the artifacts personally.
"They came to play with good hearts," she said.