Brigette Lacquette to feature in Tim Hortons campaign on diversity in hockey

Brigette Lacquette at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton in December 2021. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Brigette Lacquette at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton in December 2021. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A Tim Hortons campaign highlighting diverse hockey trailblazers will feature Saulteaux hockey player Brigette Lacquette.

Lacquette became the first First Nations woman to play for the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team in 2018. Lacquette, who is a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks, said it is "awesome" being a part of the campaign where she gets to share her story.

Being the first First Nations woman to play for Team Canada, Lacquette said she didn't have anyone else to look up to, as "at the time, it was a very white sport."

"I didn't have a person who looked like me, who overcame the same obstacles, overcame the same barriers," she said.

"I realized how important it is for young, Indigenous youth to see people that look like them and in different areas of life and for me, I had no idea that being a scout was even possible, for an example."

The Canadian restaurant chain's "Let's Up Our Game" campaign is aimed at amplifying stories of diversity in hockey

It focuses on the barriers and prejudice overcome by seven diverse hockey trailblazers in Canada. Other players featured in the campaign include women's team stars Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Nurse, and men's para hockey captain Tyler McGregor.

"We believe there is no time like the present to help promote a positive change in the game across Canada that is reflective of the diversity that belongs in Canada," CEO of Tim Hortons Hope Bagozzi said in a statement.

Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press
Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press

Lacquette's hometown is Mallard, Man., and she said the nearest hockey association was a 50-minute drive away.

"[I] grew up within a community of 150 people, four hours north of Winnipeg," she said.

"Hockey is a very expensive sport and driving all [of] these long distances, being in an isolated community is tough."

Lacquette said during her career she has experienced racism within the hockey community.

"Growing up I played in a lot of Indigenous teams so it was pretty normal to feel part of the team and then as I got older I had to play away from home," she said.

"Playing on non-Indigenous teams, having to deal with the racism, it [was] tough at the time."

Lacquette said her family has been her biggest support system when it comes to dealing with the barriers.

"They're always able to turn the negatives into positives and bring me up," she said.

Candace Ward Photography
Candace Ward Photography

But moving away from her community and supportive family to pursue her hockey career was something Lacquette struggled with. She played for the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs from 2011 until 2015, and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 2016.

"It's a lot of barriers that you have to face and not being around your people, it was pretty tough," she said.

Lacquette said her job as pro scout for an NHL team has been a learning experience with its own barriers.

"It's definitely not something that I dreamt of doing, it kind of just came to me," she said.

"I'm obviously very fortunate with that, but it does come with gender biases."

Lacquette added she is happy to work for the Blackhawks and "They've been very great to me."

A spokesperson for Tim Hortons said a commercial featuring Lacquette will be available next week on the corporation's YouTube page.