We are All Beardy’s
The Loss of the Beardy’s Blackhawks in the SMAAAHL
Our research examines the experiences of players and parents of the Beardy’s Midget AAA Blackhawks as they play their final season in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League in 2019-2020.
About this Project
This prong of the project looked to examine the impacts of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth playing with the Beardy’s Midget AAA Blackhawks, the only Midget AAA team in Canada that is located and controlled by a First Nation’s community. In 2018, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association informed all teams that they would have to reapply, as the league was looking to relocate teams to other Saskatchewan communities.
As a result, Beardy’s was notified in October 2019, that their application to keep the team in the community, after 25 years in the league, was denied. Data collection followed a community-engaged research approach that utilized ethnographic, open-ended interview, and video research methods.
Working closely with coaches, management, parents and players, we were able to follow the Beardy’s Blackhawks during their final season in the SMAAAHL, posing the question, how will the loss of the Beardy’s Blackhawks impact Indigenous and settler relationships, and access for Indigenous youth to play elite level Midget AAA hockey in Saskatachewan?
“I grew up in the rez, and I’ve always lived in my reserve, so, you know, that’s why I came to Beardy’s, ’cause they’re a First Nation team. I’m around a few other First Nations players—more than I would ever be on any other team in Saskatchewan—and I take pride in being First Nations, so that’s why I came to Beardy’s.”