Tuesday, 18 July 2023

First Nations Hockey Game

My daughter Sophie and I, as the patron of the Ice Factor Foundation, are delighted to welcome you all to this ceremony and to say Ninna Marni – hello how are you - to our overseas visitors from Northern Alberta.

For many of you, this is the first time you have travelled abroad, and I trust the experience will be rewarding. I think it is something you will always remember.

It is significant that we are here at the Port Adelaide Football Club because of their special proactive and long-standing commitment to supporting the indigenous community.

There is also a proud history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players at the club. Several have gone on to become football legends.

Undoubtedly, sport brings people together and today we gather in friendship, borne out of a love of ice hockey and kindred spirits.

It is our bond.

We were proud when the Kaurna Boomerangs – the first and only indigenous ice hockey team in Australia – participated in a cultural tour of Canada in 2020.

Now we warmly welcome the teams from Calling Lake Wabasca and Sandy Lake in Canada to our country, playing as Northern Ice.

In my former career as a former diplomat, I saw how valuable cultural exchanges such as these can be and how lasting connections can be made.

By experiencing others’ customs and traditions and love of sport, you can explore what you have in common, and how you differ, how you can build friendships, and how you can expand your individual horizons and learn from each other.

Importantly you can explore how you each celebrate, reflect on, and keep alive your cultural identities.

I know that arising from the Kaurna Boomerangs’ visit to Calling Lake there were many who were both amazed and uplifted by the similarities between the two cultures, even on a micro level such as both uniforms sporting your own cultural totems.

I would encourage you to make the most of your time together. The insights our visitors will gain from the excursions, including connecting with Aboriginal communities, will enable you to appreciate the similarities and differences between our two cultures.

Unity and understanding that bridges distance. Both our nations have rich heritages and traditions. Both have shown resilience.

Already our visitors will have sensed that Australians have a deep love of sport either as players or enthusiastic spectators.

Like many who have watched the game on television such as during the Winter Olympics, I am enthralled by the agility and speed of the competitors.

It is not surprising that it is Canada’s national winter game, although I am not sure I would do so well as you on the slippery ice!

As patron of Ice Factor, I have been impressed by how the players have shone by embracing teamwork, developed skills, and been taken out of their comfort zones.

Persistence, self-discipline, changing the game plan where necessary, having pride and a belief in yourself, are not only assets in competitive sport, but are great skills to harness when navigating wherever you choose life will take you.

Through your sport you are finding your place and connecting positively within the community.

I thank the organisers of the Tour of Hope, and all those throughout the year who contribute their valuable time and passion in enabling our young people to grow through playing ice hockey.

I am reminded of the words of the Canadian Ice Hockey Legend Bobby Orr who said: “To be a good sportsperson, you have to be a good person.”

I thank everyone who is working with commitment and passion to ensure that that is so for our young people.

To all those who will take part in tomorrow’s much anticipated game in Adelaide, I wish you good speed, accuracy with the puck, and friendly rivalry.

Coming events