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Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya, and Corey Betsidea, from Deline, make a play during a ball hockey game on Trafalgar Square in London, England, July 1. The two travelled with a group for Canada Day celebrations and to make their claim that Deline is the birthplace of hockey. - photo courtesy Doug Dillon

Group promotes tourism as Canadian reps

Christine Grimard
Northern News Services
Monday, August 6, 2007

FORT FRANKLIN - Downtown London got a peek of the NWT as representatives from Deline played hockey on Trafalgar Square in celebration of Canada Day.

The group was in London to show off their stick skills, while making a claim as the birthplace of hockey.

MLA Norman Yakeleya said that the British were quite interested in hearing about Sir John Franklin's voyage to Deline. In a booth promoting NWT tourism, Deline claims to be the birthplace of hockey.

Yakeleya said that the first record of hockey is in Franklin's diary from October 25, 1825, the earliest available record of ice hockey.

"They were very interested, we had huge crowds at our booth," said Yakeleya.

Eight people from Deline accompanied Yakeleya, along with one representative from NWT tourism and two government officials.

Danny Gaudet, a drummer from Deline, said that some people had to get over some reservations about going overseas, since many had never left Canada.

"When we got there, everything was so fast paced, the streets were so narrow," said Gaudet.

"But everyone got used to it, they figured out what they could and couldn't do."

The group met the High Commissioner while in London, and toured various spots including Buckingham palace.

The highlight of the trip for Gaudet was Canada Day celebrations on Trafalgar Square, where they played an exhibition game of ball hockey.

The group also performed a drum song and prayers for the crowd of around 60,000.

"People were treating us very well," said Gaudet. "We certainly got a lot of attention, but we tried not to let it go to our heads."

The trip was funded through the NWT tourism commission and various private sponsors.

Yakeleya said the group has been invited to come again next year.