More than 500 players—teen boys and girls—on 18 teams from across the country are taking part in the tournament, which is held in a different city every year. Participants are First Nations, Inuit and Métis and represent all 10 provinces and three territories.
A special tribute this year is being made to Manitoba hockey legend Reggie Leach, a winger who played for three NHL teams between 1970 and 1983.
Nicknamed the Riverton Rifle for his hometown of Riverton, about 110 kilometers north of Winnipeg, Leach still holds the NHL record for the most goals scored during a single playoff season. He scored 19 in 1976.
"I think that this tournament is great for young kids. It gives them an identity where they are one of the best native hockey players in the province, not only in Manitoba, but across Canada, and they're representing their province, which is great," said Leach, who is now a junior hockey coach for the Manitoulin Islanders of the Northern Ontario Bantam Hockey League.
He said hockey has become a huge component of contemporary native culture.