Two donations of sports equipment are being hailed as a game-changer for youth in the NWT communities of Aklavik and Ulukhaktok.
When hockey players line up at the annual Gwich'in Cup in Inuvik over the next four days, many will be using items provided by Edmonton charity Sport Central.
Chris Whynot, who now works for the RCMP in Aklavik but previously coached in Ulukhaktok, said the donation had made the community's kids much more interested in turning up to play.
"I witnessed a lot of frustration and missed opportunity from kids as they weren't allowed to play due to lack of equipment, or didn't want to play due to improper fits and severe wear and tear," said Whynot in an RCMP news release issued on Wednesday, celebrating the donations.
Whynot received an Aboriginal Sports Circle award in 2018 for his work coaching Ulukhaktok's youth.
The equipment arrived in two shipments – one in February 2019, the other in August. The same charity sent a similar shipment to Fort Providence in November.
Police in the NWT said the donations came through a partnership between Sport Central, RCMP, and hamlet recreation programs.
Whynot said since the equipment arrived, youth crime in both Aklavik and Ulukhaktok has fallen.
"The community was so excited. Several people stopped by just to see the boxes of gear as they arrived," he said.
According to RCMP, the communities received enough hockey sticks, hockey bags, equipment, and goalie gear to equip "at least 200 kids."
Transportation for the equipment – almost a 2,000-km journey, including a barge, in the case of Ulukhaktok – was provided free of charge.