The Elsipogtog First Nation community is celebrating one of its own.
Elijah Francis was an offensive defender for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan when the team brought home the Memorial Cup this year after winning the championship game in Regina.
Now, the cup stands proudly on display at the community centre in Elsipogtog, about 150 kilometres south of Bathurst.
Francis credits much of his success on the team to his support system back home in Elsipogtog — his family and friends.
"In communities like this, like in reserves, you get a lot of support, family support," Francis said. "But some kids, they don't really get that support. For me, I was really fortunate."
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Support for the 20-year-old Francis was evident in the large number of people who came to celebrate his victory. Local kids were delighted when Francis posed with them with the cup.
This is the second time the Memorial Cup has taken up real estate at the Elsipogtog Community Centre. Trey Lewis, the captain of the Halifax Mooseheads, brought the cup on its first visit back in 2013.
Sylvia Jadis, Francis's grandmother, is considered Elijah's "biggest fan," and has travelled around the country to be at every game he plays.
The second the buzzer went off to end the Memorial Cup final in late May, she ran onto the ice to share in the victory.
"I was really proud," Jadis said. "I think I cried I don't know how many times. Once I got on the ice, it was like, the way he was going. He just grabbed me. It was really the proudest moment."
Francis says the win is a blur, but he does remember his family on the ice celebrating alongside him.
He's hoping to be drafted to the NHL while he completes his university studies.
But if that doesn't happen, he said, he plans on coaching the younger kids in Elsipogtog and helping them chase their dreams.
"You just really gotta work hard and and really know what you want in life," Francis said.
"And once you find that one thing that you really want in life — for me it was hockey and going to the rink everyday and practising and working hard and just getting really better at the game — you just gotta put the time and effort into it so you can be really great."