Make way — the Stanley Cup’s in town
Following a stop in Kuujjuaq, the Stanley Cup arrived in Iqaluit March 27
KUUJJUAQ — If there was a trending theme to the selfies taken in Kuujjuaq March 27, it would be selfies with the Stanley Cup or with two former National Hockey League players, Marty McSorley and John LeClair.
The Stanley Cup and the two NHL alumni stopped off in Kuujjuaq on their way to Iqaluit to present 25 bags of new hockey equipment to young Nunavik hockey players — a gift that was a combined effort between hockey-equipment fundraiser Project North, Scotiabank and First Air.
From beginning to end, the trip to Kuujjuaq took on a party atmosphere: even before the First Air jet was loaded in Montreal, two Nunavik passengers waiting to board the flight to Kuujjuaq, Tumasi Snowball and Charlie Tukkiapik, were eager to have their photos taken with McSorley and LeClair.
And that upbeat mood continued in the Kuujjuaq airport where the Stanley Cup was taken out of its travelling box for passengers there to applaud, see and photograph.
At the Kuujjuaq Forum arena, students from Pitakallak School were already waiting in the lobby to see their friends receive some of the hockey equipment coming to their community, part of the $650,000 worth of hockey equipment that Project North has sent up over the past five and a half years to Nunavik and Nunavut.
Then, it was time for the Stanley Cup to make a grand entrance onto the Forum’s ice with LeClair and McSorley. Among many others, Makivik Corp. executives, breaking from their annual general meeting, also at the Forum, and visiting Nunavik MP Romeo Saganash, posed with the cup as Kuujjuamiut, including a six-days-old infant and many elders, lined up for 20 minutes to see the cup and the NHL heroes.
“Because,” one woman said. Because it was the Stanley Cup’s first visit to Kuujjuaq.
And teenager Devin Tooma was organized enough to bring two hockey cards for the former NHLers, which they signed. That made Tooma’s day.
Then after a brief photo shoot with a dog team, where the cup rested in a qamutiq, it was off to Iqaluit.
After overhearing McSorley and LeClair refer to the Stanley Cup as a “he,” when asked if the 35-inch tall silver championship trophy cup is male or female, they responded that the Stanley Cup is more like “god.”
And they weren’t surprised by the hoopla around the cup, because wherever the cup travels it has a wide community appeal, they said.
That continued in Iqaluit when the cup was unveiled from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Arctic Winter Games Arena.
A special VIP hockey game coached by McSorley and LeClair also took place there from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The proceeds from the $10 cost of the tickets for that game went to local charities, the Qayuqtuvik Society, Iqaluit’s soup kitchen, and the YWCA-Qimaavik shelter.
Youth Hockey Clinics with NHLers and Stanley Cup followed March 28 as McSorley and LeClair assisted coaches with on-ice clinics for local minor hockey teams.
Children and members of the public also turned out to have their photos taken with the Stanley Cup in the arena lobby area.