Meet one of the province’s only Indigenous female hockey refs
- EFN Staff | June 04, 2018
Growing up around the hockey rink is this young girl’s everyday life. Coming from a hockey family, Charish Cameron-Gamble from the Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation played the sport her entire life but decided it was time for a change. She had never seen a young female Indigenous referee and wanted to take up the challenge officiating a hockey game.
“It feels quite the same because you’re still in the game but it feels kind of weird. It’s a lot of pressure to be a good ref because it’s really up to you where the game will go. But I like it,” she said. “I’ve never seen a female Indigenous ref before. Personally, I don’t take it as a big thing but I guess it is.”
The 16-year-old girl who has been reffing in her first season had to take an in-class course in Delisle to be certified and to receive her Saskatchewan Hockey badge. Cameron-Gamble went straight into the intermediate class and had learned about the basic ref calls.
“I knew of the hockey so it was kind of easy,” she said. “I’ve learned what kind of calls to make in certain situations on the ice. If you’re in a game and missed a call, you have to discuss it.”
After receiving her referee certification, Cameron-Gamble is able to ref hockey games up to the midget division. She spent her entire season reffing games in her home community and felt right at home. Her first out of town games she officiated was the Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations (FSIN) Youth Hockey Tournament on April 27-29 in Saskatoon. She refereed 30 games that weekend leading to numb feet but a big pay cheque.
There are some challenges that come with officiating a hockey game such as missing a call but Cameron-Gamble said you must not allow it to bring your motivation down as a referee.
“At FSIN [youth tourney] it was a two-man system we were working and reffing the atoms division. It was challenging to catch every little thing and not being able to those calls. You sure get questioned by the coaches and the players,” she said. “It is eye-opening I do miss a call but it just makes me want to be better and keep an eye out for every little thing. It’s not defeating.”
In her home community, people would tell Cameron-Gamble how proud they are of her which gives her even more motivation to continue reffing. Although she hasn’t played hockey for two years now, she hasn’t fully lost interest in the sport.
She wants to continue reffing until she figures out what she wants to do after high school graduation. But the idea of entering into medicine is an appealing thought to Cameron-Gamble.
“I want to go into the medical field, a nurse maybe. I like everything about medicine,” she said. “I was thinking of attending school in B.C. but I’m still not sure yet.”
She hopes her story will inspire other young Indigenous girls to try something new and to break the stigma that reffing is only meant for males.
“Try something new. It really is nice and different to have women on the ice reffing,” said Cameron-Gamble. “It’s nice to come out of the comfort zone because they don’t treat you like you’re a woman but the same as everyone else.”