Prime-time Indigenous hockey initiative lands in Nanaimo
A group of Indigenous children from Vancouver Island will be outfitted and hit the ice in prime time this winter with support from the City of Nanaimo, community sponsors and volunteers.
The Salish Storm, a volunteer-run organization in partnership with Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services, is dedicated to making hockey more accessible to Indigenous youth on Vancouver Island. This winter, they’ll be at the Frank Crane Arena on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. PT, said volunteer coach Tim Harris.
Harris, who is from the Stz’uminus First Nation, says landing the coveted time slot in the huge arena is “like waking up on Christmas morning.”
âWe had ice time in Parksville a few years ago and it was 8 p.m. we could barely bring kids there,â Harris said.
The children have already received a warm welcome.
âLast week, during our session, the [British Columbia Hockey League’s Nanaimo] The Clippers played a preseason game right after us and they let us watch. It only takes one community to help raise our children and we are certainly seeing it here in Nanaimo City and seeing that support for our program, âhe said.
Beloved sport, costly effort
Despite its beloved cultural status and popularity in Canada, rising costs have made ice hockey inaccessible to many children and communities. Expensive equipment, high transportation costs, and inconvenient ice periods are challenges for many families, Harris says.
“To play hockey, it’s between $ 400 and $ 500 to dress … and then you have your expenses, and then you have the trip on top of that, and so you know, it’s pretty expensive. for our families who are still grappling with many problems of poverty within our nations, âhe said.
Fortunately, the sponsors stepped forward to support the team for the cost of some of their equipment. The coaches all volunteered their time.
But Harris says it’s not necessarily about training the next Carey Price as much as developing other kinds of skills and connections.
“For me, it’s about giving them something to do, to surpass themselves, to learn something, to socialize, to make new friends, to strengthen their self-esteem … but also to know that they have people who really care about them, âhe said. .
âHockey is basically a vehicle for getting anything we really want. “