By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – For the first time, the CBC is providing live play-by-play coverage for men’s and women’s Olympic hockey in Inuktitut.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which is ongoing until Feb 20, will also include coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies in Eastern Cree, in addition to some select men’s and women’s hockey games in Eastern Cree in both Southern Inland and Northern Coastal dialects that are spoken in Quebec Cree communities.
“I am a hockey player. I still play. I am still coaching and to use our language and hockey to help build some understanding,” Pujjuut Kusugak, who will be providing play-by-play in Inuktitut alongside David Ningeongan, told the CBC. “When this opportunity came up, I jumped all over it.”
Ningeongan and Kusugak are both from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, where Kusugak previously served as mayor.
The Cree-language coverage will be provided by CBC North morning show host Dorothy Stewart, who provided Cree-language coverage of the Tokyo Summer Olympics’ opening ceremony in 2020, and long-time CBC North sports reporter Betsy Longchamp, who has covered the Arctic Winter Games for CBC.
Stewart said covering hockey in Cree will be somewhat challenging, since the language doesn’t have direct translations of words such as “penalty,” “puck” or even “Olympics.”
“We don’t have individual words for things the way English does,” said Stewart, who added that she’s been waking up in the middle of the night with inspiration on how to describe the game’s action to viewers.
Additionally, 18-year-old Liam Gill, who is a member of Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation in Fort Simpson, N.W.T, will be competing in the snowboard half-pipe event. He’s the only Indigenous member of the snowboarding team.
Gill, who was on the team as an alternate, told the CBC he has mixed emotions after being able to participate due to the injury of a teammate Derek Livingston.
“I didn’t know how to feel,” he said. “Derek is an idol of mine.”
“I’m devastated that I won’t be able to compete,” remarked Livingston, “but I’m super excited for Liam and can’t wait to watch my fellow Canadians at the Games.”
“I’m stoked to be going.” added Gill. “I have a few runs up my sleeve and really want to make it count.”