Hockey Indigenous founder wins trailblazer award

Stephane Friday is so proud of the work that Hockey Indigenous has done.

The Kashechewan First Nation member is one of seven winners of the Herbert Carnegie Trailblazer Awards. It's to celebrate his work in promoting Indigenous voices and achievements in hockey.

This is the second year the award is being given out, and they will be presented at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto during the Carnegie Initiative Summit in January.

"It means culture, it means identity and it means belonging, I feel those three aspects are part of what this award is, and what I do with Hockey Indigenous,” said Friday. “It shows that people are recognizing our Indigenous youth.”

Friday gives credit to the team at Hockey Indigenous and said that so much credit goes to his co-founder, Abigail Linklater.

“She’s one of the main reasons why I’m here today too,” said Friday. “She really pushed hard and I couldn’t do it without her.”

He said Hockey Indigenous will continue to shine a spotlight on Indigenous leaders in hockey and they are working on training camps and other programs for those that want to get involved.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on.

“We’re focusing on the governing structure, and we’re still going to be doing the youth promotion,” said Friday. “And we’re hoping to do our own hockey development camps, so that’s still in the works.”

The Carnegie Initiative works toward inclusion and access for all in hockey across Canada.

The initiative and the trailblazer award were named for Herb Carnegie, who was a hockey player of Jamaican descent who played in Ontario in the 1940s and 50s.

He founded one of the first hockey schools in Canada and fostered inclusion for all in the sport.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2022.

That push for inclusion is what drove Friday to found Hockey Indigenous as well.

“We want to include everyone and let people know, hey there are people working at these different levels in these different organizations,” said Friday. “We hope that inspires you to go above and do it!”

Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com