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Whitebean holds on to Hockeyville dream

Tammy Whitebean’s husband Rickey Diabo, and their sons, have been supportive of the Hockeyville campaign for the past six years. Courtesy Tammy Whitebean

Tammy Whitebean vows that she will be keeping true to the promise she made to Kenny Kane at the Sports Complex six years ago: she will not stop rallying for the Kraft Hockeyville contest until Kahnawake wins. 

“My kids will carry on the fight if they have to!” Whitebean joked. After this year’s rallying period, Kahnawake did not make the top four of the Hockeyville competition, meaning that the community has missed out on the chance at winning the $250,000 arena upgrade and the opportunity to host a National Hockey League (NHL) pre-season hockey game in town.

“This year, we had more people involved, but people got busy and things just didn’t happen,” said Whitebean. “We had a meeting, but our banners weren’t made, and that’s the thing, that’s why I like to take things on by myself. When people offer to do something like the banners and it’s not done, then it’s left out, it affects it.”

Whitebean said that next year’s campaign will have to see people take more accountability for the roles and responsibilities they sign up for. 

“I’m going to be on my toes to make sure that everybody who has a part completes their part,” she said. “Without it, we’re going to just keep doing this, and next year will be our seventh year.”

Whitebean had hoped that this year’s campaign would garner even more attention than last year’s effort, which saw the community gather for a small parade in support of the bid.

“I was really hoping for something a little bit bigger at the arena, but it all fell through,” she said.

Whitebean also explained that other communities selected as finalists had high quality videos promoting their teams. She had been looking forward to this year making a video of a similar calibre, but unfortunately nothing could be pulled together in time.

“We wanted to do a video at the Sports Complex, and we handed out permission slips to all the managers of the teams to have the kids and the parents sign and return it. I thought we could do the video,” she explained. The permission slips were not handed in, however, and the video did not come to pass.

“We need someone to speak on behalf of the arena, and that’s something that we have to jump on – now,” said Whitebean. “It can’t be postponed; it can’t. It needs to be done right away.”

Above all, Whitebean stressed that the Hockeyville contest isn’t about her own drive to win, but rather about the greater good that the prize could bring to the community.

“It’s worthwhile because of the hard work and the years that were put into getting the arena put up,” she said. “There’s history in the arena, all the players watching their children do the sport that they loved, and all the compassion that these volunteers have to make sure that they get to play their hockey, their lacrosse, any sport that’s played there. I believe it’s a great opportunity for our children, and for the arena.”

Though she’s feeling dejected about this year’s result, the disappointment isn’t tarnishing any of Whitebean’s drive to push forward for next year’s campaign.

“I’m already starting for the next one,” she said. “I’ve already written down everything that I want for the next year, and it’s all going to be done before I even nominate the community again. We need more history, we need more participation from the teams. We need to bring the arena to life – that’s how they will see why it’s so important to us.”

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.