Hockey Indigenous to receive Herbert Carnegie Trailblazer Award

Stephane Friday of Hockey Indigenous. (Stephane Friday - image credit)
Stephane Friday of Hockey Indigenous. (Stephane Friday - image credit)

Hockey fan Stephane Friday started his Hockey Indigenous Facebook page four years ago with the intention of growing the game within the Indigenous community by sharing news about Indigenous teams, communities and players.

The page, which has more than 44,000 followers, has since grown beyond sharing the news to making news.

Friday, who is Cree from Kashechewan First Nation in northeastern Ontario, will be one of seven people honoured with the Herbert Carnegie Trailblazer Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto as part of The Carnegie Initiative's CI Summit, Jan. 20-22.

The Herbert Carnegie Trailblazer Award, from The Carnegie Initiative and partner Canadian Tire Corporation, is presented to people "who use the sport as a vehicle to create positive social change, embodying the CI's mission of ensuring that hockey is inclusive, supportive, and welcoming to all," according to the Carnegie Initiative website.

The award and initiative are named for Toronto's Herb Carnegie, a hockey player who broke barriers as a member of the only "All Black Line" in semi-pro leagues in the 1940s. He also established the first registered hockey school in Canada called Future Aces.

The road to a successful Facebook page wasn't easy, according to Friday. The original page, which had 36,000 followers, got hacked in 2020.

Friday's partner Abigail Linklater, a member of Taykwa Tagamou Nation in northern Ontario, pushed him to start a new page.

"When his old page got hacked it was devastating, but I encouraged him," she said.

"Let's not get this down. Let's just start over again."

The name changed from Indigenous Hockey to Hockey Indigenous but the dedication from Friday and Linklater only grew.

"The more I kept posting, the more range I would get, people started following and supporting the page," he said.

"What we did is we started off from zero, so we promoted all over and within a year from that moment, we gained all of it back and then some."

On any given day, Hockey Indigenous may post the latest updates on Montreal Canadiens goalie and Ulkatcho First Nation member Carey Price or an article on a pee-wee team from a First Nations community.

Friday's next step would be to incorporate the organization.

"My vision is to get a board going, to get support from the First Nations, get a resolution at AFN so we can get recognition as a First Nations organization to gain funding to establish a prominent organization to help our youth," he said.