First Nations wrestling star highlights ring action for Waskaganish anniversary

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Whether you call it a guilty pleasure or the coolest thing you’ve ever seen on TV – Crees love wrestling. So for Waskaganish’s 350th establishment celebration, it was time for a mega rumble July 16 and 17 at the Rupert River Sports Complex.

According to Charles Hester, the Waskaganish Director of Recreation, Culture, Sports and Leisure, the event was a “big deal.” While there are sports camps for hockey, basketball, softball and broomball, some of the “fellas” really like wrestling because they also like to be performers.

Waskaganish resident Henry Wischee aka “Big Bear” works with the Canadian Wrestling Federation (CWF) and is a huge favourite among the local children, Hester said. It’s gotten to the point that the kids get upset when they can’t buy his figurine when shopping for wrestling toys at Walmart.

They sincerely ask store employees why they can’t buy Big Bear dolls.

Hester said that having wrestling legend Tatanka attend the event was quite the coup. He was the biggest name they had ever had up in the Cree Nation and his visit took a whole year to organize. As an add-on to the event, Eeyou Istchee’s own North Stars performed.

Tatanka, however, only fought wrestlers who were part of the CWF because they had to be under contract to take part in the actual wrestling.

“Wrestling is quite well known for being half actual wrestling and half drama,” Hester said. “Once some kids figure out that it is indeed a charade they lose interest, but others stay tuned. It keeps them hooked because it’s a show and it’s just good clean fun.”

Hester said that throughout the Cree Nation, there are many Cree who travel to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto to attend WWE events.

“The CWF has been coming here for years and everybody follows the story lines,” said Hester. “Everybody knows who the good guys are and who the bad guys are and we throw a few locals into the story lines and it makes it more interesting.”

The event was carried out just like any other royal rumble, the entire first day was all about calling people out and building up drama. Because the locals participated in that, there was even some wrestling drama in Cree. There was lots of tension and anticipation for who was going to fight for the belt and win, explained Hester.

“The kids really loved it. They knew what was going on and their reactions were fantastic,” Hester exclaimed. “When someone would get body slammed they would go crazy! They were screaming their heads off!”

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