Win or lose, it’s a celebration at the Ulkatcho First Nation every time the Montreal Canadiens and Anahim Lake-raised goaltender Carey Price take the ice in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Indigenous community of about 900 members, located roughly 320 kilometres west of Williams Lake, plans on parading by vehicle around the neighbourhood after each and every game — no matter the result — during the finals as the Canadiens take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The community has been coming together for watch parties throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs and, despite Monday’s 5-1 loss to the Lightning, still hopped in their cars and trucks for a celebratory drive around the community — some residents waving Montreal flags and donning Price apparel.
Price, meanwhile, is highly regarded in the community as a role model for both youth and adults, alike, for his work encouraging First Nations youth to be leaders in their communities.
Price has been paying homage to his hometown in Anahim Lake through the painting of an Ulkatcho First Nation logo on the back of his helmet throughout the playoffs.
“I know Carey was sad to learn about the 215 in Kamloops, which has continued to grow,” Ulkatcho community member Graham West told the Tribune. “My parents were survivors like many in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”
Sharing a quote from Chief Dan George that reads: “May the stars carry your sadness away, may the flowers fill your heart with beauty, may hope forever wipe away your tears, and above all, may silence make you strong,” West said it was for all the survivors, which go back multiple generations.
The Canadiens and Lightning square off for game two of the Stanley Cup finals tonight (June 30) in Florida, before the series shifts back to Montreal for games three and four on Friday, July 2 and Monday, July 5.
Anyone in the community interested in taking part in the parades can meet up at the community hockey rink after each game of the finals.