Phoenix sophomore wants to inspire ­future Indigenous hockey ­players

By Michael Boriero – Local ­Journalism Initiative Reporter

Israel Mianscum was left speechless last week when he watched Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear sporting a name bar in Cree syllabics during a National Hockey League (NHL) exhibition game.
“It meant a lot to see him on a stage like that, especially that there aren’t many Cree players in the NHL and to just wear his name and represent who he is, words can’t describe what it meant to me,” Mianscum said in a phone interview with The Record.
The 17-year-old plays for the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Phoenix selected him 10th overall in the QMJHL draft in 2019. The young forward is also born and raised in Mistissini, a Cree community of around 4,000 people.
“Growing up it’s really hard to play hockey here because you’re so limited from everything and like just to lead the way and doing that was just amazing to see,” he said, adding that it was a positive step forward for hockey in general.
Mianscum, who is five years younger than Bear, added that he knew about the Oilers player before he made it to the highest level. He said that Bear’s actions on the ice have inspired him to continue his pursuit to crack an NHL roster.
There are only a handful of professional Indigenous hockey players and if Mianscum were to ever be drafted into the NHL, he’d become the first Quebec Cree player in the league. He also wants to forge a path for kids growing up in Indigenous communities.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ending Sherbrooke’s season in March, Mianscum returned to his hometown in Northern Quebec. He said he kept busy through Zoom training sessions, but he also focused on spending some quality time with his family.
“I’m really happy that I’m getting time with my family because during the season I don’t get much time with them,” he said. “It’s almost like a refresh for me because I got to do stuff I used to do before, like go fishing, hunting, and spend time at the cottage.”
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