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Hometown Hockey Heroes features Kerrobert man

While not all players make it to the big leagues, some inevitably become legends.

KERROBERT — Kerrobert is home to Tyson Wuttunee, the lone Saskatchewan subject in a newly released national publication titled Hometown Hockey Heroes. Wuttunee says it feels awesome to be province’s only hockey story to be included in author Ken Reid’s book.

Reid is known for his own brand of style and humour as part of his role on Sportsnet Central, serving since 2011. The Toronto resident has covered the Olympics, Stanley Cup finals, and Grey Cup events. His work includes seven books, including this newly released hockey story featuring local legends who he feels, ‘define the game and its values’.

A promo statement for the book outlines the hockey life in arenas and leagues that have forged decades-long rivalries and unbreakable friendships, with fans cheering on their hometown heroes who define their towns. While not all players make it to the big leagues, some inevitably become legends.

Players across Canada are featured, and in the book’s promotional statement, it states, “Tyson Wuttunee, an Indigenous player in Saskatchewan who, through hockey, found the family and home he’d always longed for.”

In an interview with Wuttunee for the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald and Jan. 6, Wuttunee said Reid found him after a stories were written, including Culturally significant ceremony held for Tyson Wutunnee - and Longest serving player in the SWHL calls it a career -, as well as being featured on a senior hockey podcast that circulates social media.

“Ken called me for a phone interview right after my retirement and told me ‘I fit the story’ he was trying to portray in the chapters of this book,” said Wuttunee.

“I can’t say enough about Ken Reid, to pick me out of everyone in the province. In my heart, I am happy, for him doing that. I’m giving back to Saskatchewan hockey, that’s what we’re about in this province.”

There is still much more to Wuttunee’s story as, since the book was released, he was also instrumental in the first Girls' Hockey Day in Kerrobert which saw the Treaty 6 and Métis flags join the Canadian and Saskatchewan flags on the wall in the Kerrobert arena.

In that story, Wuttunee said he felt the ceremony was meant to be. After planning this event for close to two years, it all came together for him.

“Having my family, friends and community there to witness the raising of the flags, it’s a full circle moment for the Indigenous culture and for me. I hope with each flag ceremony we have everyone gains a better understanding of what message is really being conveyed,” added Wuttunee.

The Kerrobert man’s travelling hockey camp, BNK Hockey, named after these three daughters, has taken off. He is the lead instructor in these activities that take him to non-First Nations communities as well as First Nation communities.

“These are prevention programs. My home First Nation community has seen 10 overdoses. I want to show these kids to get out there and how hockey, or any sport can improve mental wellness. Sports gets them out there doing something, because we don’t know what is going on at home. I am booked solid till February break,” said Wuttunee.

Talking of his selection for Reid’s book as well as all the juggling he does with his own work, the BNK Hockey camps, and all three of his daughter’s playing hockey, he acknowledges the support of his wife to help make everything work. Wuttunee never once mentions that it’s overwhelming, but rather than being driven for the purpose he feels compelled to continue.

“I feel like I need to do these things for these kids, lost a whole generation with drugs and alcohol and trying to spread the message and opportunities to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to give them insight on both levels of lifestyles.”

Wuttunee says he feels empowered by people of all backgrounds, races and cultures that approach him to notice what he is doing and he feels he is a person that can help bridge the gap. Since more people have learned about him from Reid’s book as well as additional stories written about him, that can only benefit what he is trying to promote and accomplish with what he does.

“I am just trying to help kids with direction, any sport, because it is something that has given me a life, and in whatever role I am in, my goal is to spread awareness. Maybe you won’t get ice time or be on the court, but stick it out, because with sport, you build relationships, through all walks of life, and there is so much to gain,” said Wuttunee. “I love teaching these kids.”

The Kerrobert man says he might not be able to help 10 kids but if he can help one or two at a time and give them something to look forward to, then he is fulfilling his purpose.

When asked if he considers himself a hometown hockey hero, Wuttunee was quick to respond, no. “But some people refer to me like that, for what I’ve done In Kerrobert, breaking those barriers.”

Wuttunee adds, “In my glory days, I used to be a good hockey player and while I ‘could have and should have’, I am incredibly honoured to have my jersey hanging in the Kerrobert arena as a First Nations guy. I feel acknowledged.”

The subject of Chapter Eleven, in Reid’s Hometown Hockey Heros book, also said, “I am treated like royalty, in my words, I’m not there, but in their eyes I am. I truly cherish these moments.”

Wuttunee says he is not looking for attention and glory but rather living his days working hard and giving back. While he didn’t have the support and money to continue a big-league hockey dream, he is driven to make a difference, and to give his daughters something he never had growing up.

He is a devoted hockey dad to his three girls playing with Western Prairie Thunder U15AA, U13AA and the youngest is playing with the Macklin U11 girl’s team.

While he affirms he has not played regularly since retirement, he has been a participant in a couple of tournaments, especially when requested by family or friends with stories behind the request, such as a respected friend who is very ill and wants to see Wuttunee play one more time.

“Things like that, I can’t say no to. For these reasons, for my First Nation, I feel like I need to give back and people want to see my play and it is part of what I do. I don’t know where it’s going, but I am helping them as they loved watching me.”

Wuttunee says, “I am not out here to make money, I am here to make a difference. The kids know who I am, the parents know who I was. I am 44 and I am only going to get older, I need to do this now.”

While proud of his selection for this national bestseller by a renowned sports media personality, Wuttunee says his life will remain the same, giving of himself to the game he grew up loving as well as supporting his daughters in their hockey goals and dreams that may one day lead them to the Professional Women’s Hockey League now taking off in Canada.