THUNDER BAY – Sports – Helping youth get their game on for Hockey there will be some Northwestern Ontario youth having that goal achieved through an effort that stretches from Richmond Hill, Ottawa, and Toronto right up to our region.
Graham McWaters, a local hockey dad from Richmond Hill, Ontario, started the initial drive for hockey equipment after speaking with families from Beausoleil First Nation at a hockey tournament in Midland, Ontario in 2015. After hearing from some Beausoleil families who love hockey but could use better equipment, Graham felt inspired to do something.
In the first year of the equipment accumulation, Graham reached out to his son’s Richmond Hill team for equipment donations who helped raise 8 bags of equipment and numerous hockey sticks. Inspired from the 1st drive, there have been 3 drives since with each growing larger than the last to the point where 110 bags and over 100 sticks were accumulated and donated January 2019.
The plan for this fall was to accumulate 500 bags and 200 sticks for 25 First Nations (FN) youth and families within a 6- hour drive of Barrie.
The goal was achieved!
Numerous businesses such as AMJ Campbell and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as well as many hockey associations were on board this year. In addition, The Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club donated 200 bags of new youth equipment! The Ottawa Senators Hockey Club and the Ottawa Senators Foundation are donating equipment as well.
We have also joined forces with a very well-known sports charity called Their Opportunity who assisted us with planning, social media and the online presence for the cash donations to buy new helmets: https://www.theiropportunity.com/500bags/
On September 14 we distributed 450 bags to 20 First Nations Groups in Barrie. To complete our goal, we are delivering 63 bags to 4 groups on December 14th at AMJ Campbell’s warehouse located at 650 Harold Crescent, Thunder Bay, ON P7C 5H5.
The following 4 groups are receiving the last 63 bags: Housing projects in Windsor and Limbrick through Lynx Clan Watch with help from OPSEU in Thunder Bay, Red Rock First Nation, Eabametoong First Nation and Aroland First Nation.