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June 30, 2017

Where We’re From | A Look at Our Canadians

There are Maritimers and West Coasters. There are boys from the Prairies, city dudes and first-generation newcomers.

Every Canadian Football League roster – including the Winnipeg Blue Bombers – is made up of players from all over this great country. And with the league’s rules dictating that 21 players of the 44-man roster be Canadian, it has long meant that opportunities remain open for homegrown products.

Today’s celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday offers the perfect opportunity to meet the Bombers’ 27 Canadians, 22 of them on the 46-man roster (including the reserve list) and five more on the practice squad.

(Not included is Californian-born receiver Derek Wolitarsky, who qualifies as Canadian because his mother is from Montreal, and was selected in a supplemental draft this week).

Bluebombers.com sat down with a few of them from different areas of our country and asked them about their hometowns…

THE WEST COASTERS

Taylor Loffler – Kelowna, B.C.
Jesse Briggs – Kelowna, B.C.
Sukh Chungh – Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Michael Couture – Burnaby, B.C.

Matthias Goossen – Richmond, B.C.

Describe your hometown:

“Richmond’s a very busy city. It’s changed a lot since I’ve grown up. My street is very friendly… big lots, big trees. But it’s changing a lot. There are a lot of condos going up. It’s crazy. Richmond is so busy… my wife is from New Westminster and the pace is different there. It’s also why I like Winnipeg so much.”

Favourite thing about Richmond:

“My favourite part is actually my cabin, about four hours east in the Okanagan. It’s not really Vancouver, but it’s a B.C. thing and going there in the summer is one of my favourite memories. That’s the thing I remember most. That, and being around my family.”

Favourite spot:

“The Night Market. It’s got a bunch of food booths everywhere. There are vendors, shows… and being a guy that likes food, you can try a lot of different things; deep-fried food, sweet stuff. That’s a good Richmond thing to do.”


THE ALBERTANS

Derek Jones, Edmonton, AB
Chad Rempel, Sherwood Park, AB

Sam Hurl, Calgary, AB

Describe your hometown:

“Calgary is all about the outdoors, especially with the mountains so close. It’s an adventurous city with… a lot of oil money.”

Favourite thing about Calgary:

“The mountains, 100 per cent. It’s snowboarding and cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking and biking in the summer.”

Favourite spot:

“Kannaskis, without a doubt.”


SASKATCHEWAN STOCK

Addison Richards, Regina, SK

Patrick Neufeld, Regina, SK

Describe your hometown:

“Regina is a government city with a tight-knit community feel to it. It’s a everyone-knows-each-other type of place. It’s a smaller city, but there’s actually a lot to do. And, of course, football is king. I grew up, probably since I was eight, going to games at Taylor Field and Mosaic Stadium. Football and sports in general were always part of my family.”

Favourite thing about your hometown:

“It’s just being close to my family. Both my sets of grandparents lived there and growing up they were all babysitters. I had my parents as coaches. And any sporting event, whether it was five-year-old swimming, junior-nationals water polo or whatever, my parents, my brother, and my grandparents would be coming out to watch me. That close family feel is what I liked most about Regina.”

Favourite spot:

“Italian Star Deli, without a doubt. 100 per cent. Carlo and his whole family have THE best sandwiches in Regina. Hands down. A spicy double meat sandwich with a Black Cherry Cola… can’t go wrong.”


THE HOMETOWN LADS

Thomas Miles, Winnipeg, MB
Abu Conteh, Winnipeg, MB (born in Sierra Leone)
Derek Yachison, Winnipeg, MB

Andrew Harris, Winnipeg, MB.

Describe your hometown:

“Cold winters, hot summers. And those summer nights are beautiful, although sometimes we get lots of mosquitoes. I’ve been away for a long time and so I couldn’t have been happier to be back last year. I love everything about this city.”

Favourite thing about your hometown:

“It’s the people. I find it especially now being a Bomber and being back home. There’s no place I go in this city without knowing someone or having someone introduce themselves. You go into a bar, a restaurant or a grocery store and people come up to you and say ‘Hi’ and they are warm and nice about it. And that’s a good feeling.”

Favourite spot:

“My go-to place is Bar Italia. That’s my hangout spot whether it’s during the day for food or for a drink. Corydon Avenue, in general, is awesome. It’s my favourite spot for sure.”


ONTARIO

Trent Corney, Brockville, ON
Matt Coates, Markham, ON
John Rush, Niagara Falls, ON
Jamaal Westerman, Brampton, ON (born in Brooklyn, lived in Florida, moved to Ontario before high school)
Brett Blaszko, Oakville, ON
Frank Renaud, Windsor, ON

Faith Ekakitie, Brampton, ON

(born in Lagos, Nigeria, moved to Toronto and then to Brampton)

Describe your hometown:

“It’s an extremely diverse place and it’s a breeding ground for athletes. Canada accepts a lot of immigrants and it seems like a lot gravitate to Ontario and this area.”

Favourite thing about your hometown:

“I really like that there’s a lot of different cultures in the area. What I’m proud of is how the Vince Carter-era with the Toronto Raptors has really seemed to spark athlete development in Brampton, not only in basketball but soccer and football. You’re seeing a lot of athletes coming out of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).”

Favourite spot:

“It’s been awhile since I’ve been back, but when I was there I just loved being around my teammates and my coaches and so that meant being around the gym a lot. I remember having access to the gym at our church and being there with my friends and teammates still sticks with me.”


QUÉBEC

Shayne Gauthier, Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC
Christophe Normand, QC
Qadr Spooner, Brossard, QC

Julian Feoli-Gudino, Montreal, QC 

(born in Costa Rica, moved when he was three)

Describe your hometown:

“It’s multi-cultural and culturally rich with a lot of festivals. Good food, great people and the most European city in North America.”

Favourite thing about your hometown:

“It’s the people and the fact that my family is there.”

Favourite spot:

“There are so many restaurants, but for sure Schwartz because the smoked meat is so good. I like the small Vietnamese restaurants, but there are also so many good Chinese restaurants, Indian food.”


THE MARITIMERS

Mike Miller, Riverview, N.B.

Jake Thomas, Douglas, N.B.

Describe your hometown:

“It’s two minutes outside of Fredericton. When I went to the elementary school – it’s now closed – it was the oldest elementary school in Canada. A lot of really good athletes came out of there, but I would call it a typical neighbourhood. A lot of biking, kids playing road hockey… it was just a special place to grow up.”

Favourite thing about your hometown:

“It’s just the people. I have a lot of close friends and family still there. A lot of them originally moved out west to get jobs but now seem to be coming home.”

Favourite spot:

“There’s not much to see in Douglas. It’s a small town. But there’s a lot in Fredericton… there’s a few waterfront views that are worthwhile and a couple good restaurants.”