Prior to the Christmas season Chief and Council (Opaskwayak Oneknew & Onuschekawak) publicly announced that it was their intention to cease the operation of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation Blizzard Junior A Hockey team after the 2016/17 hockey season. (Read more...)
Chief and Council based their decision on the need for funding for housing and that Oneknew & Onuschekawak believed that in order to move forward cuts such as this would have to happen in order for the community to move forward.
The OCN Blizzard Board became aware of this decision through social media and word of mouth. The Board took it upon themselves to meet several times over the last month including a community rally which was held on January 5th, 2017 in order to come up with a plan to make the team self-sustaining.
A plan was presented to Oneknew & Onuschekawak on January 17, 2017 which identified a plan which would eliminate money coming from the band to carry the team forward. The Board believed that given a short amount of time longer to confirm their action plan that they could make the team financially viable and still operate the team without OCN paying for the teams operations.
Oneknew & Onuschekawak then asked the OCN Blizzard Board as to how they planned on paying back the deficit over the past 20 years of the Teams operations. The Board expressed their concern as to why they would be responsible to cover a deficit which had already been approved and spent by previous Chief and Council.
The Opaskwayak Blizzard Hockey franchise has been an integral part of the branding of Opaskwayak Cree Nation and is also one of the largest contributors in bringing the community together in positive competitive sport.
The economic spin offs as a result of having the team located on OCN are large throughout the community. Purchase of fuel, additional goods and services purchased as a result of an extra 25 players in our community along with families & fans coming to our community to watch the games just to name a few.
We would ask that you consider keeping the team as it has brought a positive relationship and camaraderie to the communities. It provides an opportunity for players from OCN, The Pas, and the north to be inspired and possibly play for a Junior A team. This team brings with it an enormous amount of pride to our communities.
The Board believes that with the financial presentation presented to Chief and Council, we would not require actual dollars from OCN to operate the team however believe they could provide some in kind contributions (eg. ice, dressing room)
We look forward to your continued support in saving our team, our community pride, The OCN Blizzard.
We urge also OCN Community Members to attend the Community Meeting at Big Eddy Youth Centre at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2017 to show your support to keep our OCN Blizzard Jr A Hockey Club in our community.