The game of street hockey will never be the same for a group of young Natives from the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre.

On July 1 and 2, Loco Locass, the popular francophone hip-hop band, visited the centre and hooked up with 12 Native youths, between the ages of 12 and 16, for a street-hockey game that was filmed for an episode of the French-language television show, C’est parti mon Tipi! (This party’s my tipi!)

The show offers young Quebec Aboriginals the chance to meet well-known personalities from the artistic, sports and political worlds. Besides Loco Locass, other guests include actor Antoine Bertrand, comic Denis Drolet and Algonquin rapper Samian. These high-profile individuals visit different Native communities throughout Quebec, in order for the youth to meet and interact with their idols.

Eliane Kistabish, a community organizer at the Friendship Centre, was involved in the project. “Only some of the kids knew Loco Locass. So I had them listen to the band’s music and we watched their videos on the internet. Of course, they all knew the song, La Paix des Braves, which features Samian, but some the other songs were new for them.”

According to Kistabish, the youths were at first shy, but once things got going they were right into it. “We played street hockey with the three band members. But instead of using balls, we played with vegetables. We used onions, potatoes, cabbage and turnips, because we said, ‘Le hockey, c’est un sport des légumes’ (Hockey is a sport of vegetables).

“We practiced our slapshots with muffins soaked in a special sauce of syrup, ketchup and relish. And later we played table hockey in the Air Creebec Centre with fruit, like blueberries and grapes.”

When asked whether playing with their food was a good message to send to the children, Kistabish simply laughed and said, “It was a lot of fun and the children really enjoyed themselves. They did eat the cabbage afterwards.”

Kistabish pointed out the youths were able to see how a film shoot works. “It was a good experience to see how much time and energy is put into a short piece for TV. They were surprised that a lot of time is spent waiting. And before the band arrived, they were involved in setting up the hockey game and preparing things.”

For two days, the band members and youth hung out and got to know each other. “The band was curious what the kids did and what they liked or didn’t like. While the kids were interested in hearing about life in Montreal.”

Kistabish added, “The series is a great idea to help the youth meet people who love what they do, be they musicians, artists and athletes. Plus it is good that they can interact with positive role models.”

The Val-d’Or episode will be televised on APTN sometime in September.