Ted Nolan hosts Atlantic hockey camp for aboriginal youth
Buffalo Sabres coach runs 3Nolans First Nation Hockey School with sons
About 70 aboriginal youth from across Atlantic Canada are in Fredericton this week for a hockey camp with NHL coach Ted Nolan.
It's the first camp of its kind in the region.
"Growing up, we didn't have too much opportunities to go to hockey schools," said Nolan, who's head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and former NHL Coach of the Year.
"So when I first played my first game in the National Hockey League [for the Detroit Red Wings], the first thing I wanted to do was come back and do something like this," he said.
"They don't have to worry about getting name called, and picked on, and feeling different. They're all from the same environment, same backgrounds and [they can] create … friendships that could maybe start as five year olds, six year olds and carry on until they're 56 years old."
Nolan's wife is from St. Mary's First Nation, which is why he decided to hold the camp in Fredericton, at the Grant Harvey Centre, he said.
Nolan's sons, who have also played in the NHL, help run the camp, called the 3|Nolans First Nation Hockey School.
When Brandon Nolan, a former Carolina Hurricanes player, and Jordan Nolan, a forward for the Los Angeles Kings, aren't showing the youth how to shoot, they're sharing what they've learned, including messages about pride, discipline and self-respect.
"Just skating up to me, asking me what it's like to play in the NHL, what it's like to win a Stanley Cup. And I just explain to them, you know it's a lot of fun, but it's not easy, takes a lot of hard work," said Jordan Nolan.
"So hopefully they're going to take that on when they leave here and put it towards their hockey," he said.
For many children at the camp, it's the first time they've been taught by First Nations coaches, and played hockey with only First Nations children. It's an experience they won't forget.
"I never heard of an only-native camp, so when I first heard of it, I thought it was pretty cool. So I told my grandmother in native language, migaju, I told her to sign me up," said Treydon Simon.
For Kearah Muwin, the camp has helped her dream big.
"I want to be in the NHL, but I don't think girls can be in the NHL," she said.
The camp wraps up Friday with the youth going head-to-head in a final tournament.