Roll into any small town in Saskatchewan during the winter months and you can probably find a curling bonspiel.
It’s something the province perhaps takes for granted, especially when you consider what it’s like in the territories.
“We’re pretty limited with resources and competition,” explained Wade Kingsdon, the third for team Nunavut. “We don’t have the luxury of hopping in a car and going to bonspiels every other weekend. It’s about 2000 bucks just for us to leave the island.”
The territory is 1,877,787 km², but is home to roughly 35,000 people. It can be hard to get people together at the best of times, so Team Nunavut makes due the best they can.
“Our opportunities to go out and be as competitive as we want to be (are) very limited but we go out there and practice and do what we can and hopefully get better and sport grows,” Kingdon said.
And that’s really what Kingdon wants to do by being at the Brier.
The change in the Brier format by Curling Canada created two pools of eight and included all of the provinces and territories plus Northern Ontario, Team Canada and wild card spot. And for the first time, it allowed Nunavut to compete in the main Brier tournament.
The format was criticized by some and may mean very little to provinces with perpetual contenders, but to Nunavut it’s everything.
“(Curling is) growing mainly because of stuff like this. We’re getting out there now, people are seeing us on TV it’s great for the sport, it’s great for Nunavut,” stressed Kingdon. “If can get one more person (into the sport) … then that’s great, we’ve done our job.”
Kingdon got into the sport at 12 years old when he dad took him to rinks and got him started, but it’s actually his team’s skip Dave St. Louis that developed his talent.
“Dave took me under his wing when I started doing more competitive curling … he got me on a more competitive level.”
Eventually, that lead to him representing his territory at Canada’s biggest tournament.
“It’s a great honour. For once we’re going through the whole thing and we’re here to represent for the entire week. A lot of people are rooting for us back home and stuff like that so we’re proud and honoured to be wearing the coat of arms as long as we are.”
While he has no illusions of winning the championship, he hopes the team can learn from their experience then bring it back home to inspire a new generation of curlers.