Sudbury two-time gold medalist inspires Whitefish River First Nation community

WHITEFISH RIVER FIRST NATION—Whitefish River First Nation (WRFN) had a special visit last Sunday from two-time gold medalist Rebecca Johnston of Sudbury, who travelled to the community to share her Olympic experience with the community’s youth during the annual Whitefish River Warrior hockey banquet.

Visiting with youth throughout the afternoon, Ms. Johnston shared a slideshow, including photos and videos of her recent Sochi Olympic experience and her Canadian Women’s Hockey team win, in addition to presenting the minor hockey awards.

“Rebecca’s golden message transcended hockey as she talked about her deep determination and strong family support,” WRFN Chief Shining Turtle Franklin Paibomsai told The Expositor. “Rebecca even took the time to present awards to minor hockey players while she reflected on her own minor hockey experience growing up in Sudbury.”

“Having Rebecca here is all about inspiring our youth and building a foundation for our community’s youth to grow from,” explained the chief. “We want youth to see that if they are determined they can succeed at anything they put their minds to.”

“It’s really exciting seeing someone who went to the Olympics,” said 10-year-old WRFN Warrior Aidan Gardner.

“This experience has been pretty cool,” added Espanola Eagle, 10-year-old Westley McGregor.

During an interview with The Expositor, Ms. Johnston said that she enjoyed travelling throughout Ontario and sharing her Olympic experiences.

“I’ve been playing hockey since I was four-years-old,” she said. “I was born into playing, growing up in Sudbury in a family of six—we all played hockey”

“For me, sharing my passion for the game and the excitement of going onto the ice gives me the drive to play at the level that has given me the opportunity to go to the Olympics twice,” continued Ms. Johnston.

“Being from Northern Ontario, specifically a hockey town like Sudbury, has really helped shape me as a player,” she added.

The driven 24-year-old has been a member of the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team since 2007. Throughout her career with Hockey Canada she has won two gold medals and five silver medals at the Women’s World Hockey Championships in addition to a gold at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

At 5’7”, the forward graduated with a degree in communications from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 2012 and played hockey for the Cornell Big Red women’s hockey team. In her first year at Cornell University, she finished her rookie season with 16 goals and 16 assists in 26 games and was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and to the Ivy League First All-Star Team.