Fort Providence’s Ice Ducks hockey team is one of 12 finalists across Canada in the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, with a chance of winning $100,000 for a charity of the team’s choice.
As a regional finalist, the Ice Ducks – a U11-U15 team selected to represent all three territories in the final – receive $2,000 for their chosen charity and move closer toward the $100,000 grand prize.
People can vote for the Ice Ducks to win the $100,000 from Saturday until April 2. The winner will be announced during Hockey Night in Canada on April 16.
Edward Landry, the Ice Ducks’ head coach, said inclusion on the ice – central to the team’s Good Deeds Cup campaign – is about “showing love to everybody” and making sure everyone has a chance to take part.
Indigenous representation on the ice is important for young players, Landry added. He said NHL players like Ethan Bear and Zach Whitecloud show young people they can achieve their dreams.
“It’s a skill to skate. Once you get on the ice, and you don’t know how to skate, you’re learning. And then the next thing you know, you’re skating, passing and shooting the puck, talking to each other and laughing and joking around – it’s a really positive thing,” Landry said.
“These role models, these professional hockey players, they have a gift where they succeeded and it’s awesome to see. I show videos of them once in a while to the kids to see that.
“It’s all skill and in order to get there, you have to practise. You have to exercise. You have to do everything. Just try, it doesn’t hurt.”
The $2,000 donation will go toward Meals on Wheels in Fort Providence, which has ensured Elders and others get three hot meals a week since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Lois Phillip helped find funds for that program. She said around 25 individuals use the program and its operating costs are about $1,100 a month, meaning the donation announced on Saturday will provide almost two months of food.
“We’ll do it as long as we can,” said Phillip. “It’s run on a shoestring but if we have the means to do it, why wouldn’t we?”
Getting kids back on the ice
Fort Providence received sports equipment worth $200,000 just before the pandemic began, which Landry said residents hope will help recruit more kids.
The hockey equipment received hasn’t been used as much as the group would have liked, as the pandemic put a pause on activities like recreational sports.
“I’ve been pushing them really hard to get involved and to be active,” Landry said.
“I was talking to some of the kids and I said: ‘Life is hard and complicated but when you skate, you fall down and get up again, and you try – you don’t stop – you just keep going and keep trying.”
“You keep trying until you find your goals. That’s what you do in life and you have to have fun while you’re doing it.”
Like many NWT-based teams, Landry said, acquiring funding for travel to games elsewhere has been a struggle, despite help from local organizations, residents and volunteers.
He doesn’t want the push for kids to get involved to stop at hockey.
“I want them to get to play baseball and soccer together, so they all grow up together and have a friendly bond,” he said.
Landry said no matter how tired or frustrated he may be, he loves going to the rink to see athletes play and build connections.
“Sometimes I’m just feeling really crappy and bad, just not feeling good at all,” he said. “And I go to the hockey practice and see the smiles and everyone laughing, and everything just goes away,” he said.
“It’s just great to see.”