When the Dryden Ice Dogs added three Indigenous players at the January 10 trade deadline it brought to seven the number of First Nations products who are on the active roster of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League team. Notably, as a circuit, the SIJHL became a trailblazer before the start of this season when it hired Trevor Iserhoff as its first ever director of diversity and inclusion.
It was SIJHL commissioner Darrin Nicholas who instigated the hiring of the 40-year old Iserhoff, who is a resident of the northwestern Ontario town of Kenora and originally from Moose Cree First Nation.
“There’s a huge Indigenous population in our part of the country that we draw players from. And we do have Indigenous players that find themselves onto our rosters,” Nicholas, as commissioner, pointed out.
Indeed, five of the SIJHL’s seven member teams are located in northwestern Ontario towns and a sixth is slated to be added next season when the Sioux Lookout Bombers join the league as an expansion club.
Besides being the league’s director of diversity and inclusion, Iserhoff also serves as the First Nations scout for the Kam River Fighting Walleye of the SIJHL.
As previously noted, the aforementioned Dryden Ice Dogs have seven First Nation players — from five different provinces — on their team and Kam River has three Indigenous skaters.
Forwards Rachonne Henry, Nakoda Thunderchief and Pineshish Whiteduck and defensemen Dayvan Bull, Tie Jacobs, Jackson Jacques and Chase Muswagon represent the First Nations players on Dryden while the Kam River trio consists of forward Trenton Morriseau and defensemen Trystan Goodman and Johnny McCollum.
As well, Dryden assistant coach Andrew Perrault has First Nations roots.
As for Iserhoff, he told Hockey News North that he is “honoured and humbled to be working with the SIJHL, the teams but most important, the players. The SIJHL along with the Canadian Jr. Hockey League are doing some special things that focuses on diversity and I am excited to be a part of it.”
Further, Iserhoff relayed to freelance writer Sam Laskaris that “it would just be good for everyone to be on the same page and learn as one and move forward and try to eliminate racism and stereotyping and all the prejudice that comes with it. Unfortunately, it’s in hockey and I would love to see it gone from the game.
“I played the game,” Iserhoff added. “I’m a minority and I’m First Nations so I’m able to understand.”