Bringing a lacrosse program to Maskwacis has the support of all four nation chiefs.
A special memorandum of understanding with the four nations, Grand Chief Willie Littlechild and Alberta Lacrosse was signed at the Ermineskin Arena on Saturday.
Lisa Grant, executive director for Alberta Lacrosse, said there was a minor lacrosse program in Maskwacis some years ago but it never fully took off. She hopes this time around with the community and leader support it will keep going.
“We’re going to just start with the younger age groups and start up a house league and get the younger kids playing,” said Grant.
The hope is with having the younger kids involved, they will continue to play as they get older.
Grant said it is an exciting venture with strong potential to build up the program, keep kids active and see a traditionally Indigenous sport return to a First Nations community.
“Lacrosse is also known as a healing game,” said Grant, adding that Littlechild has always been a supporter and there is even support with the school commission in Maskwacis.
Former elite lacrosse player Blaine Raine is leading the charge on bringing the sport to Maskwacis.
He played division one college lacrosse then senior B lacrosse in the U.S. and Canada and played with the U.S. Marine Corps for almost 14 years until he eventually returned to Maskwacis.
“Lacrosse has been very good to me. It helped me travel and helped me meet great people,” said Raine. “And I want to expose lacrosse to the kids here because I know there’s some natural talent here.”
Several teams brought back medals when there was a lacrosse program at Maskwacis.
Raine added he feels the lacrosse program will be a benefit to the hockey athletes, pointing out it’s the best off-season sport for hockey.
To help build up the excitement, the Lacoka Locos midget team recently held an exhibition game with a First Nations team.
Locos coach Gordon Kirbyson, was excited to be able to bring the Locos — currently undefeated in the regular season and heading to provincials this weekend — to Maskwacis to showcase the sport and have his players gain some cultural exposure.
If all goes well the first game could be played next season as part of a house league.