Ainsley Abitong holding her catch with her Uncle Mike Abitong checking the weight on his catch with Cora Toulouse.

By Leslie Knibbs

SAGAMOK ANISHNAWBEK FIRST NATION—Family Day was celebrated on February 20 with a traditional Fish Derby on Lake LaCloche in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. 

With a sunny blue sky overhead, 350 people made their way out onto the frozen lake testing their ice fishing skills and treated to a free barbeque courtesy of the Band Office and headed by Cora Toulouse, Recreation Coordinator for Sagamok, and volunteers.

Fire Chief Bruce Southwind said that the derby was started the year after Family Day was officially declared a holiday. Like others in this caring and progressive community, Southwind credits the ongoing success of the derby to the many volunteers in Sagamok. Each of the local teams involved in the Little Native Hockey League (LNHL) were given a task list of jobs to do in support of the derby.

With the success of the LNHL province-wide, final tournaments are held in a larger built up area. This years tournament will be held in Mississauga, Ontario, hosted by Moose Cree First Nation. Because of the number of teams and spectators including players’ family members, the final tournaments are held where there are more accommodations available closer to the hockey venues. With distant travel for most northern teams, fundraising has become a necessity for most First Nations.

Sagamok successfully achieves their goal in fundraising by holding Bingos, a draw for a new ATV, and selling raffle tickets. This year, one of the main fundraisers is selling two tickets for a Maple Leaf Hockey game with a hotel room included. The draw for the winner of the tickets takes place on March 4 and the game is on April 8. For information on ticket sales or raffle draw tickets, call: Cora Toulouse at 705-865 2421 extension 240. 

The picturesque lakeside and riverside community of Sagamok continues to provide a caring family environment for residents with events like the Family Day Fishing Derby.