More than 40 youth have registered for Inuvik’s first year hosting Canadian Tire’s First Shift hockey program.
The program, meant for new-to-hockey families, aims to make the sport more accessible, according to Britney Selina, program organizer and capacity advisor at the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC).
Typically, First Shift participants have to pay a $199 fee to participate in the program, but for participants in Inuvik, IRC will cover the fee.
“It’s an expensive sport with registration, equipment, travel, ice time,” said Selina. “Even for juniors and young players, your skates alone are over $200, so it really makes the sport accessible and affordable for families.”
Canadian Tire partners with Hockey Canada and Bauer Hockey to sponsor the First Shift program in communities all over Canada.
The program provides youth who are new to hockey with head-to-toe equipment, as well as six on-ice training sessions in their hometown.
Selina said the Inuvik program is for youth ages five to 12 who have less than one year of experience playing ice hockey. She added that there are many children in Inuvik who are interested in hockey, but stick with road hockey or ball hockey because ice hockey is too expensive.
“This program is pretty critical for a lot of youth,” said Selina. “If there is a lot of interest, this could definitely be a program that comes back.”
Selina said the community has shown a strong interest in the program. It was initially supposed to support 30 youth participants, but more than 40 signed up.
Selina said the program will be important for Inuvik youth.
“Hockey is our nation’s sport. The interest for getting involved with hockey is strong here and the sport itself really brings people together,” said Selina. “I know that for anybody that plays hockey, they know the importance of being on a team and having leadership roles and the camaraderie with the people that essentially become your family. What hockey gives to young athletes gets carried with you throughout your whole life, so this is a good start for young athletes.”