Becca Cahoose is ready to watch the parent who built her a treehouse play for the Stanley Cup.
She remembers the summer days when she and her family in Anahim Lake saw Carey Price every weekend, and when he decided to do them a favor.
“We would all meet at our grandma’s house and hang out together,” Cahoose said. “That’s when Carey saw us all bored and started working in the treehouse. ”
Cahoose, 27, said she knew Price because they shared a grandmother. She started calling Price “uncle” when she was young and never stopped admiring him.
Now she’s “more than excited” to reunite with some of those same friends at her grandmother’s to watch Price – considered one of the best hockey goalies in the world – play for the Cup.
The enthusiasm for Price and the victories of Canadians resonated throughout the small First Nations community where he hails from. And the Stanley Cup race injected what many in the community describe as a much needed note of optimism and pride.
Price took his community with him on his journey to the Stanley Cup. On the back of Price’s Montreal Canadiens helmet is an appeal to his home community, the Ulkatcho First Nation logo on Anahim Lake.
“I’m happy he’s wearing Ulkatcho loud and clear,” Cahoose said.
Price grew up in Anahim Lake, a member of the Ulkatcho First Nation and the son of current elected chief Lynda Price. It is a very small community, with the village of Anahim Lake having only 1,500 residents and 900 Ulkatcho Nation members. About two hours inland from the northern community of Bella Coola, Anahim Lake is surrounded by wilderness and is a place where grizzly bears are often roamed by.
As a youth, Price skated at a local rink, but to play hockey at a higher level, he eventually embarked on Williams Lake, a town of 10,000 people about a five-hour drive from Anahim Lake.
The goalkeeper, who is known for his stoicism on and off the ice, has not forgotten his home community and has used his platform to draw attention to her.
In an interview following the victory over the Las Vegas Golden Knights that sent the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup final, Price said his mother had just been re-elected as head of Ulkatcho. And he said two words in the local Dakelh language of the First Nation.
Fred Cahoose, Becca’s father, offered the translation.
“It means ‘hello Ulkatcho’,” he said. “He hasn’t forgotten us.
Fred Cahoose said the whole community is excited for Price to take the Habs to the final. It is personal for so many people to see the Ulkatcho logo on the highest stage in hockey, and especially on such a well respected player on and off the ice.
“He is a role model for all the young people here. He’s a really calm guy, he’s always been like that, ”said elder Cahoose. “And he’s really generous. He is also a model in this area.
He said after every final game, won or lost, the community planned for a parade of vehicles around the reserve, with people honking their support for Price. This comes at a time when something edifying is sorely needed, with two First Nations announcing the discovery of hundreds of graves at the sites of former residential schools in the past month.
“That’s what everyone is saying here at Anahim Lake,” he said. “With all the findings from residential schools going on, it’s good to have something positive to change.
Graham West is one of the community members inviting people to watch the game. About an hour and a half before the series opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he said everyone was counting the minutes before the opening face-off. A jersey from Price’s first NHL season hangs on the back of the wooden house.
“He’s already won all the awards,” West said. “But this one means a lot – especially with the logo on the back of his helmet. ”
“Some people say it’s lucky for them. “
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