The Greater Toronto Hockey League and Ontario Provincial Police are joining forces to collect and distribute equipment for Northern Ontario First Nation communities.
The equipment drive will begin Monday, Sept. 21 and continue through the end of GTHL Puck Drop Weekend on Sunday, Sept. 27. Gently used equipment and monetary donations will be collected at the following times and locations:
GTHL office (57 Carl Hall Road)
Monday, Sept. 21 to Friday, Sept. 25
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
GTHL Puck Drop Weekend
Canlan York University (989 Murray Ross Parkway)
Saturday, Sept. 26 & Sunday, Sept. 27
Call 416-636-6845 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
From the archives…
A passion for hockey led to careers in the National Hockey League for Paul Harrison and Peter Ing. Now, both former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders have a passion for helping children.
Their new passion is giving children in a remote First Nation community new hope.
While teaching a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) course in southern Ontario, Harrison, a Timmins native and Ontario Provincial Police constable and DARE co-ordinator, met now-retired OPP officer Marc Beauparlant, who works out of Marten Falls First Nation. The new DARE officer was concerned about being effective in the remote fly-in community as relationships with the police were strained at best.
“I told him he had to do something to make a connection with the kids, but he wasn’t sure because there was so much drug and alcohol abuse, that the kids didn’t even go to school,” Harrison said. “It’s a very difficult environment.”
The idea came up that since the children of the community loved hockey so much that Beauparlant should try to incorporate the sport into his presentations.
Construction of a new arena was being planned, but there was no equipment for the students.
Harrison eventually received an e-mail update from Beauparlant. He excitedly told Harrison about what was going on: plans for the arena and how he started a skate drive so at least the kids could skate when the facility was finished.
“Just as soon as I finished reading that e-mail, I got another one from kidzcanhelp.ca, announcing Peter Ing as honourary chairman,” Harrison said. “I know Peter very well. He’s a former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie too, and we’ve been friends for years.”
Kidzcanhelp.ca is an organization that was launched in 2009 by two nine-year-old boys in the Niagara region. The original goal, after seeing a clip on Hockey Night in Canada, was to collect hockey equipment for children in Bosnia.
“I immediately called Peter to congratulate him on what he was involved in,” Harrison said. “I said it was nice they were helping Third World countries and people in need, but I said there were a lot of Third World-type people living right here in Canada.”
Kidzcanhelp.ca immediately got involved, promising 10 sets of hockey equipment before Christmas.
Since learning the equipment would be coming, Beauparlant has been able to use it as leverage with the students, in an effort to raise attendance.
“School attendance is a problem in Ogoki Post,” he said. “I made a challenge to the children to attend classes and have a good attendance record and the reward would be getting the donated equipment so they can skate and play hockey.
“The end result is this year’s attendance is significantly higher than last year and I can say the promise of hockey equipment is a major reason.”
Harrison said the organization and the partnership within Ogoki Post is a great fit with what the DARE program teaches students.
As a former NHL goalie and a police officer, Harrison has always said being involved in minor hockey, or any organized activity with structure, provides a positive alternative to drugs and violence.
“Our mandate is to give kids the skills to make good choices and have productive lives,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful that if we can get these kids involved and motivated, who knows, maybe we’ll have another Jonathan Cheechoo or another hockey superstar coming out of here.”
“With Marc teaching them how to make good choices, having a passion for hockey and applying those good choices to life goals, it could be a real nice combination,” Harrison said.