Fred Sasakamoose reflects on journey to the National Hockey League

Fred Sasakamoose made history in 1954.

At the age of 20, he skated onto the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens and became the first indigenous person to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).

“That is an unforgettable memory of my life, to be able to reach and become and NHLer,” said Sasakamoose, who was born on the Sandy Lake Reserve in Saskatchewan.

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    When Sasakamoose was 16, he tried out for the Moose Jaw Canucks in the Western Canada Junior Hockey League, but homesickness threatened to end his career.  He even ran away once, getting as far as Chamberlain by foot, a 55-kilometre journey.

    His coach, George Vogan, found him and persuaded him to stay.

    “I wanted to come home, I didn’t fit in this world. White kids, 130 of them,” explained Sasakamoose.

    WATCH BELOW: Fred Sasakamoose overcame monumental obstacles to succeed in the world of hockey

    His grandfather taught Sasakamoose how to skate when he was six.  While his grandfather couldn’t talk or hear, he could see, and he would put three pairs of socks on Sasakamoose’s feet, then moccasins and strap on a pair of bob skates.

    He took two willows, cut then into the shape of a hockey stick and dried them by the fire to harden their frame. The puck he used was made of frozen horse manure. They would spend hours together on the pond near the reserve.

    When Sasakamoose was seven, he was removed from his First Nations home in northern Saskatchewan and taken 500 kilometres away from his parents to attend St. Michael’s Residential School in Duck Lake.

    “It’s hard to talk about residential school. There were a lot of things in there, that … well. Every Saturday night, we listened to Hockey Night in Canada, a whole bunch of us kids on this cement floor.”

    WATCH BELOW: Obstacles aboriginal kids face as they try to realize their hockey dreams

    Sasakamoose couldn’t afford a hockey stick, so he would work in the barn or sell his apple at lunch for extra money at St. Michael’s.  Over two years, he saved up enough money for a proper stick.

    His team, the St. Michael’s Mallards, or as Sasakamoose says, “the original Mighty Ducks,” would capture the 1948 Northern Saskatchewan Midget Hockey Championships.

    Eventually, Sasakamoose achieved what seemed the impossible and earned a spot on the roster of the Chicago Blackhawks.

    “Only 125 hockey players and six teams, and I was one of them,” noted the 83-year-old.

    READ MORE: Teaching aboriginal culture through hockey

    Compared to residential schools, hockey was a stark contrast for Sasakamoose.

    “It didn’t matter about your colour, you were a team. You played to win, you played to win together.”

    Ted Nolan, a former NHL player and coach, grew up on a reserve near Sault Ste Marie, Ont. He arrived on the hockey scene 30 years later and credits Sasakamoose and other indigenous players for paving the way.

    “All the guys on TV who had brown faces, those are guys that were inspirations for us. If they could, maybe we could, too.”

    But just like Sasakmoose, the success on the ice didn’t come easy.

    “When things are tough, one of the easiest things people do in life is to quit. You just have to find a way to persevere if that’s something that you truly believe that you can do,” Nolan said.

    “And for whatever reason I believed I could when I was skating with those Size 6 skates on a reserve with my feet being Size 3. No equipment, old stick, on an outdoor rink, thinking one day that I could play in the NHL, when I did, that’s why the tears came down.”

Thousands of Canadian Armed Forces members take part in massive training exercise

Nearly 5,000 military personnel are at CFB Wainwright in Alberta, taking part in the largest and most comprehensive military exercise of the year.

Exercise Maple Resolve allows the military to practise their skills in a setting as realistic as possible for when they are deployed.

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    “I think the only thing that is missing is that there are not real bullets flying,” said Col. Peter Scott, the commander of the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright. “We’ve created an environment that is as close as possible to what they will face on any given deployment.”

    READ MORE: Largest Canadian Armed Forces military training exercise underway in Wainwright

    The exercise is a force-on-force battle where Canadian troops work to liberate the fictitious country of Atropia from the aggressive nation of Ariana and re-establish the international border between the two.

    Those who take part in the exercise wear sensors at all times. There are also sensors connected to their guns and equipment. The technology allows their leaders to track the men and women in real time and see when and where a person has been hit by gunfire.

    “It gives the soldiers a real type of environment that they would face without actually using real bullets,” Col. Scott said.

    Soldiers play both friendly and enemy forces and use their expertise just as they would if it was a real-life battlefield.

    Soldiers practice skills from combat, to peacekeeping, building bridges – both literally and figuratively – with those in villages who are played by actors.

    Blackhawk helicopters practise medical evacuations and Hercules aircraft drop much-needed supplies to soldiers and villages.

    Troops from the United States, Great Britain, Australia and  New Zealand are also helping which allows the allied countries to work together in an environment where the realities of a deployment are replicated as closely as possible.

    “This training area is probably one of the best in Canada,” Col. Scott said. “It enables us to bring those forces together into a great training environment.”

    The soldiers are being tested. This is the last major training exercise before they’re at a high level of readiness, which means they are prepared to be deployed anywhere in the world where they are needed.

    WATCH: Canadian soldiers deployed to Poland

    “Whether you are a soldier or you are a leader or you’re staff, it definitely allows you to refine your skill sets,” said Maj. Mike Miller, who has taken part in the exercise before and has served overseas twice.

    He said the training is invaluable.

    “You get to link in with your allies, understand what you need to do to get yourself and your guys ready to go and conduct – whether its domestic or international – operations.

    The members sleep as they would if they were on a real mission, eat rations and there are no showers. They are exhausted and that’s the point.

    “Many of the soldiers are very tired, however, this accurately reflects an operational theatre of war,” said Lt.-Col. Ben Irvine. “The length of training (and) the complexity of the stressors applied are quite challenging for the members.”

    When the exercise is over, the entire group will sit down and look at what went right and what went wrong so soldiers can learn from their successes and failures.

    After days of observing the work of the men and women on the ground, Lt.-Col. Irvine believes the group will be ready to head into combat if need be.

    “I’m fully confident on completion of this exercise we’ll be able to not only meet but exceed any expectations from the army and the Government of Canada for any operations abroad,” he said.

    View a photo gallery of the training operation below:

    Canadian forces help their translator get medical attention during Exercise Maple Resolve

    Canadian forces help their translator get medical attention during Exercise Maple Resolve.

    Global News

    US troops return from playing opposition forces during Exercise Maple Resolve

    Global News

    Soldiers prepare to head out to Exercise Maple Resolve from the CFB Wainwright base

    Global News

    US Military ambulance parked during Exercise Maple Resolve

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    CH-147 Chinook at CFB Wainwright airfield.

    Global News

    The CC-130J Hercules at the CFB Wainwright airfield.

    File

Chelsea Manning shows off new look after release from prison

NEW YORK, May 18 (Reuters) – Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. Army soldier responsible for a massive leak of classified material, shared a photo of herself for the first time since she was released from prison.

The portrait, which Manning shared on her 杭州桑拿会所 and Instagram accounts @xychelsea87, shows the 29-year old in a short-cropped hair wearing red lipstick and a dark deep-V-neck sweater.

Manning was released from a U.S. military prison on Wednesday, seven years after being arrested for passing secrets to WikiLeaks in the largest breach of classified information in U.S. history.

In this Aug. 20, 2013 file photo,Chelsea Manning, who then went by the name Bradley Manning, is escorted to a security vehicle outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File

Manning was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for furnishing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks, an international organization that publishes such information from anonymous sources, while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

WATCH: Obama defends decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence

Many on social media congratulated Manning’s newfound freedom, with her post receiving 33,000 likes and 7,600 retweets on Thursday.

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76-year-old Alberta grandmother to graduate with her granddaughter

Monique Trottier doesn’t sit in the back row of a Red Deer, Alta. classroom because she wants to hide from her teacher.

It’s because the 76-year-old student uses a walker and it’s the easiest place to sit.

Known as “Nana” to staff and fellow classmates, the senior is trying to achieve a lifelong goal.

“It has been a dream of mine to graduate (high school),” she told Global News.

“I guess you could say it was on my bucket list.”

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    It was a dream because as a teenager growing up in Montreal, she dropped out of school.

    “I just had a hard time learning and I didn’t know why. Back in those days, you were dumb or stupid and the kids made fun of you.”

    The mother of five, grandmother of 13, and great-grandmother of seven went to work and later raised a family.

    It was only many years later she learned from another teacher why she had struggled so much in class.

    “She says, ‘you know what your problem is?’ I said, ‘No.’ She says, ‘you’re dyslexic.’”

    “I said, ‘Is it contagious?’ She said, ‘No, it’s not contagious,” Trottier laughed.

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    Two years ago, she started giving her time at Red Deer Public School District’s Alternative School Centre.

    She had a positive impact on the students from the start, and they gave her an idea, too.

    “As I was doing the volunteer work, I would sneak a peek at the books and wonder if I could do that.”

    She started classes in February and she’ll graduate in June 2017.

    To top it off, Trottier won’t be the only one from her family walking the stage: her 17-year-old granddaughter is graduating, too.

    Brittny Berekoff says it’s a moment she can’t wait to share with her grandmother.

    “Forever we will remember this as something we did together,” Berekoff said.

    “It’s made me appreciate my learning more because I know how much she wants this.”

    It’s rubbing off on other students, according to principal Rick Ramsfield.

    “I have never seen a student like her before.”

    Many of her fellow students are doing better with their studies because of Trottier, Ramsfield said.

    “It was kind of this competition going on as to who is getting the better mark, so she’s been a great catalyst with kids moving forward with their own learning.”

    Now some 60 years after leaving the classroom, Trottier is sometimes surprised by her success.

    “I’m doing Grade 12 work and I’m understanding it! I’m not stupid,” she said.

    “My message is: don’t give up. Don’t believe what you hear,” she said.

    “Go for it! You’ll make it; you can do it.”

Ontario Provincial Police investigating after muskrat found injured in diaper box dies

GORES LANDING, Ont. – The case of a muskrat found badly injured in a diaper box has triggered an investigation by Ontario’s provincial police.

Investigators say they’ve determined the now-deceased muskrat was left in a Huggies box on the shore of Rice Lake at Gores Landing, Ont., about 40 kilometres south of Peterborough, Ont., on Monday evening.

They say a witness told them a mid-sized, four-door blue sedan drove into a boat launch area with three occupants — two females and a male driver — who all appeared to be 16 to 18 years old.

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Police say one of the female passengers allegedly placed the box near the water’s edge before the vehicle drove away. They say the witness investigated and found the injured muskrat.

The animal was taken to Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue centre in Bowmanville, Ont., where staff named it George, and then taken to a veterinarian on Tuesday for treatment of cuts to its mouth, broken teeth and an eye injury. The muskrat died a short time later.

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Investigators are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the three people in the car.

Stefanie MacEwan, the founder of the rescue centre, had started a GoFundMe page to pay for George’s vet bills, but said Wednesday that some of the money raised — nearly $3,400 — would now go to pay for a detailed autopsy on the rodent.

George’s remains were to be sent to the Ontario Veterinary College located in Guelph, Ont., for the autopsy, MacEwan said.