Yellowknifers are getting set for the four-day Hockey Day in Canada event that will take place from Feb. 5 to 8.
City of Yellowknife director of community services Grant White unveiled the schedule to much excitement among city staff earlier this month.
Answering a series of questions recently, Debbie Gillard, city clerk, said the city is looking forward to the four-day event after months of work since May 2019 when an organizing committee was formed.
City council approved the event last April. Gillard stated that much of the the city’s financial contributions will go toward “power, promotions and consultant fees.”
Among the other parties that the city worked with included representatives from Yellowknife Minor Hockey, Yellowknife Men’s Recreation Hockey, Hockey NWT, GNWT, Yellowknife Education 1 School District, Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Scotiabank, Hockey North and JTFN 2.
“The exposure for Yellowknife as a tourist destination for Canadians is massive as the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada event has grown each year of the last four years,” stated Gillard in an email.
“The 2019 event reached 9.6 million Canadians which equates to 1 in 4 Canadians tuning into the broadcast. The broadcast event will assist in increasing the awareness of Yellowknife as a tourist destination.”
The dates are within prime winter tourism day,s but Gillard said the dates were selected by Rogers Sportsnet and are typically held every year during the same time “to accommodate the All Sta r(game) break in the NHL schedule.”
Gillard said the GNWT has provided funding and personnel for the days’ organizing committee and that the business community has been supportive in different ways with “various sponsorship opportunities.”
“A lot of it is going to be just the alumni interacting a little with the students, sharing some stories about their experiences and just trying to pumping up the big televised events on Saturday,” he said.
Weledeh will be welcoming former Edmonton Oilers Fernando Pisani and Jason Strudwick, as well as former Olympian gold medal winner Cassie Campbell, and current Canadian Women’s Hockey League player Ann-Sophie Bettez at the Weledeh/St. Patrick School gymnasium.
Students were preparing for the big day on Thursday, including with some hockey jersey decorative artwork made by classrooms.
“Hockey to me is just a fun sport and (Hockey Day) is going to be cool and exciting,” said Caelan Waddell, one Grade 6 student. “It will be a big thing and there are different hockey players coming to play. I am hoping to meet (former Edmonton Oiler) Paul Coffey because my dad is a big fan of Paul Coffey and he has told me how great he was.”
Jenny Reid, principal said the day will be a big deal for her school community.
“We are hoping to really decorate the gym so that the gym looks festive and that it represents the passion that we have for hockey in Canada,” she said. “We are really stoked, and I think we are especially lucky to have female role models to help inspire all of our kids to participate in Canada’s favourite sport.”
Other Hockey Day activities will provide exposure for Northern artists, including musicians.
Diga (or Jesse James Gon) of Digawolf, was nominated this week for a Juno Award.
He also just wrapped up a gig as an official showcasing artist for Folk Alliance International in New Orleans. He said this week the Hockey Day in Canada will be an especially important show for him.
“It is an honour to play, in Yellowknife especially,” he stated in an email. “Representing my community nationally is always an amazing thing.
“Being that it is Hockey Day in Canada, I think this is more than just a national stage, it is an entirely new audience, which we are excited to speak to. For myself and the other artists performing, who live and work in the North, this is a great opportunity. But I do have to say, I am always proud to represent Yellowknife on any stage.
Another Northern artist, popular fiddler Wesley Hardisty, said he is looking forward to collaborating with Digawolf and the Dave Bidini Band, which is also another featured act from Toronto.