Hunter Tootoo remembers the delight he felt when Team Nunavut made its Tim Hortons Brier debut in 2016.
A Liberal MP on the time, Tootoo mentioned it was fairly emotional to be readily available at Ottawa’s TD Place Arena to lastly see the territory represented on the nationwide males’s curling championship.
“You couldn’t believe they were there,” Tootoo mentioned. “I know it was something that we fought for for a long time to be able to get access. To see it finally happen, it was just overwhelming.”
Tootoo hopes to construct on the territory’s current strides in his new position as Nunavut Curling Association president. The former fisheries minister, who has curled for over 20 years, began within the place this season.
He had his work minimize out for him initially. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the opening of the Iqaluit Curling Club, the one facility planning to function within the territory this season.
The opening was lastly confirmed just a few weeks in the past underneath return-to-play pointers and play may start in a matter of days.
“Everything is running a bit late,” Tootoo mentioned from Iqaluit. “The ice is going in right now. Hopefully later this week or early next week it’ll be ready.”
Iqaluit membership is simply choice for playdowns
Tootoo mentioned services in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay will not be planning to function this season. By default, that leaves the Iqaluit membership – which has about 400 members – as the one choice for territorial playdowns.
Registration is underway in what is actually a membership championship with the winners incomes berths within the Brier and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“We’re hoping to but we’ll see,” Tootoo mentioned. “With all the travel restrictions, that’s going to present some challenges for people to be able to participate.”
It stays unclear whether or not gamers who do not reside in Nunavut will have the ability to compete within the Jan. 8-10 competitors. Normally curlers can use birthright standing or the import rule to play however journey restrictions may have an effect on entries.
“Right now they’d have to apply for an exemption and go into quarantine for two weeks before they come up,” Tootoo mentioned.
He added that work is underway on a contingency plan in case of playdown challenges because of the pandemic, a problem that may have an effect on a lot of associations across the nation.
Nunavut’s Brier debut got here in a play-in competitors – an unpopular qualification spherical that noticed dropping groups relegated – that was dropped when the championship moved to a 16-team format in 2018.
With the principle draw not starting till two days later, there was no hoopla, bagpipe walkout or tv protection on that first night. A pair dozen spectators have been scattered across the 9,500-seat enviornment.
It did not matter to skip Wade Kingdon and his workforce in that formative season. An early exit after three losses did not dim their enthusiasm both.
The scorelines have improved lately because the modest program has developed.
Nunavut’s Scotties debut additionally got here in 2016 and the territory earned its first main-draw victory final yr when Jenine Bodner edged Quebec’s Gabrielle Lavoie 4-3.
The workforce reached a better stage final season. Lori Eddy skipped Nunavut to a shock 6-5 win over Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville and a 7-6 victory over Quebec’s Noemie Verreault.
Eddy almost upset Team Canada earlier than Chelsea Carey got here again for a 6-5 victory. The previous few ends have been proven on nationwide TV – a rarity for Team Nunavut – and that acquired people’s consideration within the territory.
‘Motivated by the success’
“There were all kinds of comments from people watching all over,” Tootoo mentioned. “How proud they were and how happy they were with how [well] the ladies were doing.”
“It really seemed to take off and then the younger kids in the community really picked up on that,” mentioned Donalda Mattie, who coached the Nunavut aspect. “They were motivated by the success of those ladies. I hope that it will continue.”
With children Kaitlin MacDonald and Sadie Pinksen gaining worthwhile expertise, the workforce completed with a 2-5 document, a greatest for Nunavut on the competitors.
“We would hope that that will transfer over to maybe some sponsorship for the teams,” Mattie mentioned. “It’s expensive for the teams to travel and to go out and do spiels.
“But I’m definitely hoping that that pleasure will proceed on. It definitely appeared to with the [juniors].”
Tootoo represented Nunavut in 2013 at the Dominion Curling Club Championship, the first of three appearances he made at the national playdowns for club players.
He’s happy with his new role on the curling scene and can’t wait to finally throw some stones.
“Going to do a few floods on the curling rink immediately,”