Despite challenges, a large donation of hockey equipment from people in Nanaimo has reached some happy players in Canada’s north.
“Within half an hour all the gear that we raised was gone. It was actually crazy,” said Cst. Joshua Cook.
Last year, soon after becoming a Mountie Cst. Cook and being posted in Iqaluit, he went to the remote indigenous community of Kinngait, north of Hudson Bay, where the ice is plentiful but the hockey equipment was hard to come by.
A young boy asked him to borrow his skates. They were far too large but it gave Cook an idea.
Cook a former ice hockey player with VIU’s Mariners reached out to his former coaches, one a Nanaimo RCMP officer, asking if some equipment could be found for the kids in the village of 1200 people.
“It’s a fly-in fly-out community so everything has to come in by boat or by plane and the community does its best to support each other and to support the youth but money’s always an issue in northern communities because it’s so expensive to run,” said Cook.
The head of VIU’s Mariner’s hockey Club took up the cause.
“There’s a whole community that got behind this and I was really, really pleased and kind of impressed with what came together for this,” said Myles Parsons, President of the VIU Mariner’s Hockey Club.
Those in Nanaimo donated over 200 pounds of gear last spring but then came another challenge.
“We finally got the gear raised and then the problem was we were trying to find a way to ship it up here cause it’s so expensive,” said Cook.
Despite road washouts and other setbacks, the equipment made it to Victoria’s airport before West Jet and Canadian North airlines transported the equipment to Kinngait for free.
Cook says he helped give it out last week.
“Just seeing the joy on the community’s faces and the thankfulness that they’re going to be able to go out on the pond and have a great game and have a pickup game and enjoy Canada’s national sport was really just heartwarming,” said Cook.
“It’s a good feeling and it kind of encourages us to do more stuff,” said Parsons.
One big goal scored with multiple assists, the stars of this game too many to mention.