A fundraising effort for the Eenouch AA midget hockey team in Waswanipi turned ugly recently when it was discovered that the invited guest wasn’t even aware of his required presence at the gala.

The Eenouch won their league championship this past year and were looking to celebrate their successful season with people willing to pay $50 for a meal ticket and a chance to see their hockey hero, Jonathan Cheechoo and his father Mervin.

“They wanted us to promote [this event] on the regional radio and we made a deal where we would and we’d also give a donation,” said Luke Macleod, Executive Director of the James Bay Cree Communications Society (JBCCS). “We asked if the special guests were confirmed and they said yes. So we went ahead with the promotion. We received a fax from Mervin Cheechoo saying that they never confirmed their attendance at this event.”

Macleod also went on to say that Sidney Ottereyes, one of the organizers of the event, was contacted and he assured them that they were still working on it.

“We were quite upset because we were led to believe right to the end that Mervin and Jonathan were going to be there,” he said. Macleod also said that JBCCS would like to apologize to anyone who was disappointed and misled by the advertising.

“They made everybody believe that they were still working on it. No one would admit that there wasn’t confirmation, even though Mervin sent a letter confirming the fact that no one contacted them about it,” said Macleod.

The Nation obtained a copy of the letter, which reads in part: “We want to inform you that we never agreed to be in attendance. There were calls made and messages left requesting our attendance by Sydney Ottereyes. Jonathan and I never personally talked with Mr. Ottereyes to confirm or not to confirm our attendance. We were awaiting the results of some medical attention Jonathan may be receiving in San Jose. But as of now, due to the circumstances we regret that Jonathan will not be available.”

The letter was addressed “to whom it may concern” and signed by Mervin Cheechoo. It went on to say; “we congratulate the Team and their success this year and wish all the boys best wishes in their dreams to pursue hockey at a higher level.”

The letter concluded: “We feel that it was important to write this letter to let you know that we never committed ourselves to attend. This advertisement should have never been posted without our confirmation to attend. It may reflect poorly on Jonathan and cause disappointment to the youth who were hoping he would come. Jonathan has never neglected to attend a function in the past that he has committed himself to attend.”

The situation is unfortunate, says Macleod, because now the JBCCS will have to ask for proof of who has committed to fundraising activities in the future instead of relying on the word of the organizers.

Sydney Ottereyes could not be reached for comment.