TED NOLAN VISITS MI'KMAQ TRIBE
BY TINA COMEAU
Ted Nolan's interests may have turned to hockey after he slipped on a pair of skates as a teenager.
But he's never turned away from his roots and his proud First Nations heritage.
While in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia as part of the Islanders training camp, Nolan attended the annual Harvest Feast hosted by the Acadia First Nation Band on Saturday. The reserve is located just a few minutes away from the Mariners Centre, the arena in Yarmouth where the camp is being held.
Nolan told the assembled crowd at the event that no dream is too large, regardless of who you are, or where you come from.
"I grew up a very proud young Ojibway (tribe) man who will hopefully pass onto the next generation of kids that anything is possible," he said. "It doesn't matter where you're from or how much money you have or all of those types of things. I really believe in whatever goals and dreams you have in lifeÂ¦you've just got to work at it."
Last year Nolan was head coach of the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior A Hockey League. The stint came after an eight-year absence from competitive coaching. In 1996-97 he had coached with the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.
But no matter what arena Nolan finds himself in, how he got there is never far from his mind.
"I think it's important for everybody to always remember your roots and where you're from and be proud of where you're from," he said. "I see the drums here and I had a chance, when I was a kid, to be a drummer and I was a powwow dancer until about 16 or 17 years old when I put on a pair of skates."
Still, throughout his life Nolan has continued to devote himself to First Nations causes, including teaching hockey to First Nations kids. In Sault Ste. Marie his efforts, as well as his own achievements, earned him such accolades as the Order of Ontario and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award.
Deborah Robinson, chief of the Acadia Band, said it was inspirational to have Nolan attend their event.
"What an example to youth a mentor, a role model they can look up to and admire," she said. "For him to take time out of his busy schedule and to spend time with us is an honour."
Nolan presented Chief Robinson with a signed Islanders jersey, that he said could be raffled off to raise money for youth programs. He laughed when the chief's young son asked if he had also brought a Boston Bruins jersey too.
"A what?" Nolan said smiling, while engaging in some playful banter with the young hockey fan.
Tina Comeau writes for The Yarmouth Vanguard newspaper
PHOTOS BY TINA COMEAU, YARMOUTH VANGUARD