Fears of COVID-19 sees 9 James Bay Coast teams pull out of Little NHL tournament

Nine teams from the James Bay Coast have pulled out of the Little NHL Indigenous hockey tournament due to concerns about Coronavirus.

Teams from Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Attawapiskat have decided not to play in the annual tournament in Mississauga this weekend.

They’re worried about bringing COVID-19 back to their isolated communities.

“It’s going to spread like wildfire, especially in a community like Attawapiskat, because people are crammed into houses, sometimes two, three families in one household,” says Attawapiskat Chief David Nakogee.

He says his First Nation will look at other ways to keep COVID-19 from coming to their community, which could include restricting outside visitors.

“That was just one way to prevent the virus from going up north. I know it will eventually come up there. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, right?” says Nakogee.

Linda Debassige, the Chief of M’Chigeeng on Manitoulin Island, has called for the Little NHL tournament to be cancelled this year to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus. 

But the tournament featuring over 200 youth hockey teams is set to go ahead as scheduled starting on Saturday in Mississauga.

Organizers do say they’ll be taking extra precautions to protect players and spectators. 

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