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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 22, 2003 - Issue 81


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Ron and Don Show to Make Historic Broadcast from Nunavut

by Kirsten Murphy Nunatsiaq News
credits: Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean with Canadian North flight attendant Diane Tiktak

Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean with Canadian North flight attendant Diane TiktakFebrury 14, 2003-A star-studded cast of Canadian hockey players and CBC broadcasters are in Iqaluit this weekend to film the fourth-annual Hockey Day in Canada.

Ron MacLean, the host of Hockey Night in Canada, arrived in the city on Feb. 10 to admiring fans and a CBC North camera crew. Before rushing to his hotel, the ever-accommodating MacLean stopped for photos with well-wishers.

"I still can’t believe it was him," said Diane Tiktak, a Canadian North flight attendant who served MacLean lunch on his three-hour Ottawa to Iqaluit flight.

Don Cherry, host of Hockey Night in Canada’s Coach’s Corner, arrived the next day, followed by former NHL players Wendel Clark, Ken Dryden, Steve Larmer, Mike Gartner and Paul Harrison.

Saturday’s Hockey Day in Canada (HDC) is an all-day, televised tribute to amateur and professional hockey players across the country. From frozen ponds to million-dollar ice rinks, the show presents snippets from hockey hopefuls across Canada, followed by three back-to-back NHL games.

This is the first time in HDC’s four-year history that a Northern territory is hosting the popular 15-hour show. Fibre optics installed for the Arctic Winter Games last year will allow HDC to be hosted from Iqaluit.

Thirty CBC technicians and producers specializing in remote productions flew to Iqaluit to build an on-site control room. Building the portable hub is the biggest hurdle in a place inaccessible by road, said Chris Irwin, HDC producer.

"We’re lucky there’s such a solid CBC presence already here," Irwin said.

Microwave links were installed on the roofs of the Arctic Winter Games arena and the Arnaitok arena early this week. Signals picked up from the links will get uploaded to a satellite and then beamed into thousands of living rooms in Canada, live, all day Saturday.

MacLean and Cherry are taking centre stage in Iqaluit. Footage will also be coming in from six other cities, including Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and Port Alberni, B.C.

Combining live feeds and pre-recorded footage from 10 Canadian communities for 15 hours pales in complexity only to federal elections, Irwin said.

So what made the producers of Hockey Day in Canada choose Iqaluit?

"The Tootoo brothers piqued a lot of interest in the North. They wouldn’t be the sole reason we’re up here, but the story of those two brothers had us thinking of hockey in the North," Irwin said.

Rankin Inlet’s Jordin Tootoo, 20, is the first Inuk hockey player drafted to an NHL team. His brother Terence was on a similar path when he committed suicide at the age of 21 in August 2002.

"We are thrilled to be able to host Hockey Day in Canada," Iqaluit Mayor John Matthews said. "Hockey is a very popular sport throughout Nunavut for both the players and the spectators. The pride we all have for Jordin Tootoo’s successes and the pride he shows for Nunavut is a reflection of this."

MacLean visited the High Arctic in August 2001 with the Canadian Armed Forces. As much as the midnight sun impressed the broadcaster, so too was the community impressed with him.

Arctic Bay’s Rex Willie remembers MacLean’s knack for names.

"He met a bunch of kids in the hotel the first day. He came back to sign autographs the next day and he didn’t have to ask their names a second time," Willie said.

During MacLean’s visit almost two years ago, Willie handed the broadcaster an Arctic Bay hockey jersey — a jersey MacLean plans to wear while filming in Iqaluit this weekend.

"That’s really cool," Willie said.

For all the hoopla surrounding MacLean’s arrival, the congenial broadcaster says he’s the one who feels lucky.

"We know there’s a huge hockey audience in the Arctic," MacLean said.

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