WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kids in the North End Hockey Program will be skating at Pioneer Arena (799 Logan Ave.) more often.

David Chartrand (third from left to right), president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, with the Norquay Knights hockey players on Mar. 23, 2017.
LIGIA BRAIDOTTIDavid Chartrand (third from left to right), president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, with the Norquay Knights hockey players on Mar. 23, 2017.

 

On March 23, the Manitoba Metis Federation announced a commitment to help and invest $10,000 in the NEHP every year. The funding will help offset registration, equipment, ice, transportation and training costs.

“Every kid should have a dream, and they should have a chance to fulfil that dream,” David Chartrand, MMF president, said at the announcement.

NEHP is managed by Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre and provides North End children and youth from ages five to 17 years old an opportunity to play organized hockey, with all the required equipment.

“When they are skating, they are not going to get only one chance to practise, but they’ll get four chances to practise and all of the sudden those three other chances can bring them up another skill level,” he continued.
“Just because they are not economically rich as other (teams), doesn’t mean they can’t be as good as others or better.”
NEHP supports four hockey teams in the North End: house league A3 (for seven- and eight-year-olds); atom 10 A3 (for nine- and 10-year-olds); pee wee A3 (11- and 12-year-olds) and minor midget A2 (15-year-olds).
The MMF investment will allow each team to have three additional practices weekly from October to March.
Dana Riccio, Ma Mawi communications and events manager, said they plan on incorporating spring break and summer camps and speed skating as well.
“Not having enough practice time puts us in a deficit already so if we are at that level, if our athletes are top-notch, this is only going to allow them to improve,” Riccio said.
She explained the hockey teams are essential to providing North End youth with positive experiences, pulling them away from the risk of going astray.
“The barriers that our children face — like poverty, gangs, drugs… there’s so much negativity, that being on ice allows our kids to be good and to have the opportunity to play hockey and not have to worry about what’s happening,” she said.
North End hockey players practise on Friday evenings at Pioneer Arena and spend their weekends engaged with empowering experiences during games. Riccio commented parents have told her they don’t have to worry about their sons and daughters going out on Friday nights because the children are tired after practices and wake up on Saturday morning for hockey games.
“This is not only developing athletes; we’re developing leaders. There are so many opportunities for our kids once they are in our hockey program that we can build on their strengths,” Riccio continued. “We get to cheer them on and support them to become leaders.”
Chartrand said MMF has invited organizations and businesses in Manitoba to support and invest in community youth programs such as the NEHP.
“Sports like hockey help our youth build vital interpersonal, cooperative, and critical thinking skills they will need on their path to one day becoming leaders in our community,” he explained.