Talk to Brigette Lacquette, and it doesn’t take long to pull together a
first impression – quiet, humble, put-your-head-down-and-go-to-work player
who loves the game. And that’s not wrong.
But there’s another story there, and it’s an important one.
Lacquette is the first First Nations player to earn a spot with Canada’s
National Women’s Team; it is a designation that carries a fair bit of
weight with it, and one she takes a great deal of pride in.
“It’s everything,” Lacquette says. “I’ve worked my whole life towards this,
and just being that role model for young First Nations across Canada, it’s
huge. I didn’t have that growing up, have that women’s hockey player to
look up to that was Aboriginal, so being the first one, it means a lot.”
Growing up, the closest the defenceman had to a First Nations role model on
the ice was Jordin Tootoo, who burst onto the international scene with Team
Canada at the 2003 World Juniors.
Lacquette had just turned 10 years old when Tootoo helped Canada to silver
in Halifax, and remembers the impact his performance had – on her, on First
Nations, and on the rest of Canada.
“He had the whole country behind him, and was making First Nations and
Aboriginal people proud across Canada,” she says. “It has always been my
goal to make a difference like that.”
The road to making a difference, though, hasn’t been an easy one for the
24-year-old, who has had more than one roadblock pop up on her winding path
to Olympic centralization – financial difficulties, bullying and racism,
just to name a few.
But they have all helped Lacquette, as she puts it, “grow a tough skin.”
So have her parents. Terance, who is Metis, and Anita, who has treaty
status with the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan, have been a driving
force, literally, shuttling Lacquette and her siblings from one end of
Manitoba to the other in support of their hockey dreams.
“Family is everything,” Lacquette says. “They are my rock; my parents and
my sister (26-year-old Tara) and my brother (21-year-old Taran), they keep
me level. Even when something isn’t going right at the rink, I can count on
them to be there for me.”
A product of Mallard, Man, a tiny community of somewhere around 150 located
330 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, Lacquette describes her hometown as
“the middle of nowhere.” But few things have shaped her journey more.
“It’s where I came from and where I grew up,” she says. “It’s a piece of
“It’s not only Mallard, but it’s my reserve, too. I take a piece of Cote
and Mallard everywhere with me. I’m just extremely proud of where I come
from, because with the obstacles I’ve been through and overcome, that has
made me the person I am today.”
Lacquette burst onto the scene almost a decade ago with a trio of
award-winning performances – she was named Top Defenceman at the 2008
National Women’s Under-18 Championship, 2009 Esso Cup (winning a national
title with the Westman Wildcats) and 2010 IIHF World Women’s U18
Championship (where she set up the overtime winner to give Canada its
first-ever gold medal).
With stops at Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy, the University of
Manitoba and the University of Minnesota Duluth along the way, she carved
out a place in the national program, and earned an invite to Olympic
centralization ahead of the 2014 Games.
But facing a deep blue-line, Lacquette was released in November 2013 and
watched from home as Canada claimed a fourth-consecutive gold medal in
Sochi with a wild overtime win over the United States.
Four years later she is back in Calgary with another Olympics on the
horizon, and the not-so-happy memories to motivate her as Canada’s National
Women’s Team prepares for PyeongChang.
“I have never forgot that feeling of getting released last time, so it
One would think that having a second chance to represent your country on
the biggest stage in sports, with the eyes of the First Nations community
on you, would come with a certain (probably significant) amount of
“I don’t really feel pressure,” Lacquette says. “I’m extremely proud of
where I come from, and I’m just excited to be where I am and have this
opportunity to try out for the Olympic team and play for Team Canada.
“Just to be that person for someone to look up to, and to have that hope
for First Nations kids, it means a lot.”