Young hockey players from Saugeen and Nawash First Nations took part in a high performance ice hockey camp at the University of Waterloo. The camp was organized by students who wanted to share their passion for the game.
University students inspired to hold camp by lessons on reconciliation in Indigenous Studies class
Aastha Shetty · CBC News
· Posted: Jan 13, 2024 4:00 AM EST | Last Updated: 3 hours ago
Hockey camp for Indigenous youth held by students at University of WaterlooFor many people in Canada, ice hockey is a true passion. Students at the University of Waterloo wanted to share their love for the game with Indigenous youth. They recently invited young players from two Indigenous communities to join a high performance ice hockey camp at the university’s ice rink. CBC K-W’s Aastha Shetty stopped by to hear more about how the project came to be.
A small group of students from the University of Waterloo hope their passion for hockey can help build bridges with Indigenous youth.
The students recently organized a high performance hockey camp at the university’s rink and invited young players from Saugeen and Nawash First Nations to take part.
Nolan Lee was inspired to host the camp while listening to his professor talk about reconciliation during an Indigenous Studies class.
“I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to just give back,” he said. “We were super lucky. We played hockey our whole lives and all the friendships and opportunities hockey given us — we just wanted to give back and share our love for this sport. I think this is something we feel comfortable in and we just want to share it with others.”
Lee recruited four of his roommates to help out as coaches. They’ve promised to help run another event like this one next year after Lee has graduated.
Morris John, Kayden Roote, Neebin Johnson, Eli John and Kayani Wesley all enjoyed hitting the ice for a high performance hockey camp at the University of Waterloo. The camp was held over two days: Jan. 6 and Jan. 14. (Aastha Shetty/CBC)Stephanie John is a recreation manager at Saugeen First Nation, located on the shores of Lake Huron near Southhampton, about 165 km north of Waterloo. She helped recruit the young players participating at the ice hockey camp.
John said an event like this will have a bigger impact beyond the sport.
“A few of these kids are not far from university, right? Maybe it will push them more to stay in school and get an education,” she said.
“This is around the time kids don’t know what they want to do. Maybe they’ll see hockey as one of those outlets to keep them busy while they’re in school.”
Brock and Marykka Pucan came to the ice hockey camp at the University of Waterloo with their mom, who watched them proudly from the sidelines. (Aastha Shetty/CBC)Fun to hit ice with friendsBrock Pucan, who is 11 years old, said it was fun meeting new friends from other communities.
“It’s fun being into able to play with your friends and train with other people,” he said, adding he would like to one day play as good as his older sister, who has previously played for the Ontario Rep Hockey League.
Also having a great time were best friends Neebin Johnson and Eli John, who only got off the ice because the Zamboni needed a few minutes to flood the rink.
John said he’s excited to play in a big facility like this one, especially after a long Christmas break from hockey.
“I didn’t have any practices, I didn’t have any games. So this event really helped me out, to break the ice a little bit,” he said, adding that it was great to learn from college-level athletes and that he’d love to come back next year.
The organizers of the event want to see that happen too.
They’re hoping the success of this year’s ice hockey camp will attract some good attention from organizations in the city that would like to help them bring the sessions back for many more years to come.
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Aastha Shetty can be reached via email email@example.com or by tweeting her at @aastha_shetty