We experienced something wonderful this past year. It started in October when registrations for the skating club were announced. This was only its second year. My husband and I thought about enrolling our four-year-old boy Alex, who is very energetic. It would be perfect for him, we thought. So we enrolled him in the pre-juvenile division. (There were different divisions for age groups such as power skating, speed skating.)
Anyway the year went on. Sometimes it was hard for us to leave work before 4:00 p.m. to get him to his class, but we were committed to taking him. In the beginning, he and most of the other children in his group could barely walk on the ice, so they would crawl around. Their teachers Rhonda Spencer and Christopher Pash took the time to teach them. Rhonda would tell us, “Look at them now and then look at them in April” (the end of the skating season).
The first time my son actually skated was only after a couple of months in his program. This was overwhelming to see as a parent.
Soon news came around the community that Elizabeth Manley, World Champion
Figure Skater, was being invited to perform in a year-end ice show.
Excitement filled the parents and people of Chisasibi. “Will she be able to come Way Up North,” we wondered? Then it was confirmed. She would be coming to our community in April. A lot of preparations and planning were done by the Committee, which included Rhonda Spencer, Olivia Spencer, Lorna Spencer, Beulah Sam, Violet Snowboy, Clara Kanatewat and Johanne Matowahom.
The big event came April 27th and 28th. The organizers were worried that people wouldn’t show up because goose break had started early.
But to make a long story short, the Ice Show was a total success. The arena was packed. A busload of people even came from Radisson as well.
The skating costumes and lights were incredible. Professional outfits had been rented from Toronto, and a light crew had been hired from Amos.
The young girls, many of whom performed solo dances, did little jumps and twirls on theice to songs like “Lady in Red,” “Man I feel Like a Woman” and others.
The comedy act of the show came in the form of a well-known, male Chisasibi resident who dressed up with long blond hair, a big bum and huge boobs, and she skated around shaking her boobies at the audience.
The cute part of the show was pre-juvenile group, the four and five-year-olds who came on near the beginning dressed up as cows, rabbits and hounds, they skated to kids’ songs like “Old MacDonald” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
I must say everyone was proud, some with tears in their eyes, proud of the children and adults who performed and proud that a champion figure skater took the time to come to our community.
Of course, Elizabeth Manley awed everyone with her skating abilities. The crowd went wild after each of her double jumps (I think she even did a triple!) We were all also struck by the warmth and friendliness she showed towards people of the community.
During her stay here, she went out to Elijah and Marion Cox’s camp where she ate goose and bannock. At the feast in her
honour, she was given gifts from the community — a picture of the northern lights, a sweater, tamarack decoys and slippers with a figure skater embroidered on them.
At the feast, she said she was seriously considering coming back next year to perform in the next Ice Show and she would bring a male figure skater with her. She seemed truly sincere when she said how much she enjoyed her stay in our community.
In a sense I think the skating club, ice show and everything else brought the community a little closer together.
Our skating club is still new and our skaters are just learning — but I think the experience opened a lot of people’s eyes — that anyone can succeed with hard work and determination, and we can give our children opportunities and guidance in clubs like these.
Hats off to everyone who participated (skaters, volunteers, the committee) to make thisshow a success and to the dedicated skating teachers, Rhonda Spencer andChristopher Pash who, I’m sure, will have lots of registrations for next year’s skatingclub.
(Photos by Susan Runnels)