GARDEN VILLAGE, ONTARIO—Nipissing First Nation (NFN) has announced it will serve as the host community for the 2023 Little Native Hockey League (LNHL) tournament in Mississauga next March.
“As much as NFN and the LNHL executive wanted to stage the event this year, the continued uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic and the arrival of the Omicron variant in December made it impossible to safely proceed,” a NFN release said. “We all know that it has been an incredibly difficult two years living with the pandemic but we hope that this good news will boost spirits and give us all something to look forward to next year. Hockey has been a huge part of our community for so long and we look forward to celebrating the return of the LNHL tournament with our families and friends from First Nations across Ontario.
“Our team is energized by this news and looks forward to hosting an incredible tournament in 2023,” said Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott MacLeod. “The cancellations were extremely disappointing for everyone, but this pandemic taught us that we cannot predict what will come next. We were not willing to take the risk of hosting a huge hockey tournament that could have jeopardized the health and safety of first nation communities across the province. It was a tough decision to make, but ultimately the right one.”
“The LNHL executive is very excited about this announcement,” said LNHL president Marian Jacko. “Hosting this tournament for the first time after three consecutive cancellations is something we are all looking forward to. We know how important this event is for first nations across the province and we look forward to working with Nipissing’s team to host an incredible experience in 2023.”
“Usually, at this time of year, many of us would be preparing to travel home from Mississauga after enjoying fun-filled days of hockey and friendship,” said Ms. Jacko. “Like everyone else, we look forward to COVID-19 being in our rear-view mirror by this time next year. We can’t wait to reunite with everyone to celebrate the spirit of hockey, community and the four pillars of the LNHL that distinguish this tournament from any other: citizenship, education, respect and sportsmanship.”