The small, quant town of Val Marie, Saskatchewan is the typical Canadian village with under 200 residents. Their primary economical resources are ranching, farming and tourism, but it’s famous for two primary reasons.
One: the nearby Grasslands Provincial Park, a place to see some of Canada’s rarest wildlife in it’s 700 square kilometers.
Two: seven-time winner of the Stanley Cup, Bryan Trottier.
He was born in Val Marie on July 17, 1956 to Buzz and Mary. Trottier’s father is of Cree-Métis and Chippewa heritage, and his mother is Irish. The pair raised their five children on a small ranch a few miles outside of the township. While Trottier says they never had any specific Indigenous traditions, especially since they didn’t reside on a reservation or Métis settlement, he did have a beautiful connection to their families’ heritages.
He says the culture of natives, hunting and living off the land was “wonderful.” Being able to embrace one’s ethnic background, and the diverse cultures surrounding us, should be celebrated together because as different as we are, we’re also similar. It’s about acceptance for yourself and others.
“For us, we just had a wonderful sense that our family is very cool,” Trottier says. “We have all this wonderful stuff… we enjoyed this love of nature. We just had life.”
He describes his family as having a great deal of love, and furthermore states that the First Nations culture and how he was raised had commonalities, even without traditional rituals or ceremonies.
Both sides of the family were great, and they tended to have a very particular pride to their heritage, they also had a sense of wonder and appreciation for everything. Trottier also enjoyed being able to try all the different types of meals and wild meats.
“We had food, commonality, just a lot of love. I think those are the big things.”
Though, the family’s legacy out in Val Marie is their musical talents! Even today, people will recognize their name and associate it with their family band and musical skills, which Trottier jokingly calls very “Canadian.”