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Gold and orange looks good on U11 team Williams Lake U11 development team

Team hosts hockey tourney Jan. 12-14

Despite the extreme cold, the heat was on the ice at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex as the local U11 development team hosted their home tournament Jan. 12 to 14, winning 5-3 in the final game against Prince George on Sunday.

For the tournament’s opening ceremony, the Williams Lake team proudly donned orange jerseys while Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad and Williams Lake First Nation cultural coordinator David Archie helped start the weekend off in a good way.

“It’s nice to be able to at the last minute come and do something like this,” said Webstad after she dropped the puck for the opening game between Williams Lake and Smithers 2 at 5 p.m. “I know it means a lot to them too.”

Archie gave an opening prayer and was joined by Anna Kalalest and Valerie West for drumming and singing the Chiefs’ Song.

Webster credited Tyler Fuller, a former professional hockey player and now assistant coach for the U11 team, and his wife Amanda, for the idea of the orange jersey project.

“When the story came out of T’Kemlups of the 215 last year, Tyler wanted to do something,” Webstad said. “From there he contacted Chief Willie Sellars and Willie called me and then the rest is history. The WHL is on board. It’s pretty cool.”

Fuller escorted Webstad onto the ice for the puck drop and told the Tribune afterwards he and Amanda originally hoped to get one orange jersey and sell it, perhaps with former Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price’s name on it, but it turned out to be bigger than just one jersey.

“It’s a movement that’s going on with us and educating people,” Fuller said.

Fuller started his own hockey career in Merritt, went on to play for the Williams Lake Timberwolves, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, Flint Generals, New Mexico Scorpions, Burns Lake Braves and the Williams Lake Stampeders up until the 2019-2020 season.

His son Nylan Fuller is a defenceman on the U11 team.

Joining Webstad at the rink were Ben Flesher from McCabe Promotional, the company sponsoring the orange jersey project, and Shannon Henderson, Orange Shirt Society president and acting executive director.

Flesher is from London Ontario, and was happy to travel all the way to Williams Lake to meet in person with Webstad and Henderson.

“That’s one of the things about Orange Shirt Society,” Webstad said. “We want to be an Indigenous-led organization, and one of the things that is important to me is meeting face-to-face to have that communication and for the people we do business with to know who we are, where we come from and what the story is firsthand and experience the community and not just be on a Zoom meeting.”

Henderson joined the society five years ago and is based in Vancouver.

Flesher said it has been an amazing partnership with the Orange Shirt Society and both Webstad and Henderson have been so amazing to work with.

“I feel the same way as Phyllis does about the face-to-face aspect that it’s not just an email chain. It’s been really cool to see it become this personal relationship.”

Flesher said the orange jersey project is growing. In addition to hockey jerseys, they are now expanding to making lacrosse and football jerseys.

“We are just going into production on those and during the summer we will have a whole bunch of orange football and lacrosse jerseys across the country.”

Seeing the players with their orange jerseys warmed her heart, Henderson said.

“It is this generation that is going to get the conversation going and create the change that is going to happen. It keeps the movement going. You see somebody wearing orange and you know what the conversation is meant to have. It keeps the learning going,” she said.

The Williams Lake team faced teams from Kamloops and Prince George.

Teams travelling from out of town include two from Smithers, one from Prince George, one from Quesnel and one from Kamloops.

The final games will begin 6:15 a.m. Sunday, with the winners of game 10 and 11 facing off at 10:30 a.m.

Organizers say there will be some amazing raffle prizes as they encourage the public to come down and cheer the team on.

READ MORE: Williams Lake students share warmth, create quilt for residential school survivor

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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