A pair of Aboriginal groups are among those who will receive grants this year to help grow the sport of hockey in their community. Manitoba’s Waywayseecappo Youth Recreation and the Bkejwanong Youth Facility, located at Ontario’s Walpole Island, are among the 38 organizations that will receive RBC Play Hockey grants in 2011. This year’s grant recipients were announced in early May.
The grants, awarded to groups across North America, range from $5,000 to $25,000. RBC runs the grant program in partnership with Hockey Canada and USA Hockey.
Grant money will be used in a variety of ways. Some will help learn-to-skate programs. Others will go towards ball hockey and equipment-sharing programs, while others will help reduce registration fees.
RBC has allocated more than $200,000 in grants to the various organizations in this, the first year of a multi-year $1 million initiative to support grassroots programs.
College assists Games
Yukon College will play a huge role in next year’s Arctic Winter Games. The school has entered a partnership with the AWG, which will be held March 4 to 10 in Whitehorse.
For starters, the college will serve as the AWG administrative headquarters. Yukon College will also be the venue for the wrestling competition. And the school will manage the AWG food services, entertainment areas and health clinic.
Yukon College officials are also hoping many of their students will help out with the running of the games. In fact, they are working on a program that will reward those who volunteer at the AWG with some course credits. Yukon College students will also have plenty of opportunities to attend or help out with the AWG, which will be staged during the school’s reading week.
The AWG have been held every two years since 1970. The Games feature Aboriginal athletes representing nine regions. The 2012 games will feature a total of 19 sports. Both outdoor and winter sports will be contested.
Some of the traditional winter sports included are hockey, speed skating and cross-country skiing. Other sports that will be staged include soccer, badminton and volleyball. Plus, the AWG have a definite Aboriginal feel with the inclusion of Dene Games and Arctic Sports. Dene Games include events such as the pole push and stick pull. Arctic Sports events include the one-foot high kick and the kneel jump.
Winnipeg hosts nationals
Aboriginal clubs will be meeting in Winnipeg later this summer to determine national fastball bragging rights. The 2011 Canadian Native Fastball Championships are scheduled to be held July 29 to 31. The McKay Masters Fastball Club will host the national tournament.
Teams will be competing for Canadian titles in four divisions. They are senior women and senior men, as well as masters categories (for those 40 and under) for both genders. More than 1,000 participants are expected for the tournament, which has been held annually since 1974.
A total of 78 clubs competed at last year’s nationals, held at Saskatchewan’s Whitecap Dakota Nation. Alberta’s Siksika Rebels won the senior men’s category last year while the Red Nation Jets, whose roster included players from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, took top honors in the senior women’s grouping.
Another Aboriginal team
Now there’s even more Aboriginal squads competing in the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA). The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, which is actually located in Quebec, is also fielding a Junior C squad this season in the OLA ranks. Kahnawake previously only entered a team in the higher-calibre Junior B ranks.
Kahnawake’s Junior C squad competes in the OLA’s 18-team league. Last year the Junior C circuit featured just eight entrants.
Kahnawake managed to win its season opener, edging the visiting Cornwall Celtics 8-7 on May 7. But Kahnawake was unable to register another win the following afternoon, as it was doubled 8-4 by the visiting Brockville Ballistic.
Meanwhile, Kahnawake’s Junior B side is in an even bigger league, consisting of 25 clubs. This loop also includes the Akwesasne Indians and the Six Nations Rebels. Akwesasne and Six Nations also have entries in the OLA’s 12-team Junior A league, called the Indians and Arrows, respectively.
The OLA also includes a pair of Aboriginal men’s teams. The Ohsweken Warriors are members of the Senior B league, which features seven participating clubs. And the highest-calibre Major Series Lacrosse has six teams, including the Six Nations Chiefs.