Shoot for Success, a program aimed at increasing attendance at Nunavut schools by offering kids the chance to win tickets to an NHL game, is expanding this year to include the Qikiqtani region.
The program, now in its third year, is the brain child of Collin Goyman. Goyman is a paramedic based in the territory's western Kitikmeot region. He started the initiative in Cambridge Bay in 2013, giving away signed Los Angeles Kings jerseys and hats.
Last year, he expanded it to include schools in Kugluktuk, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak and Kugaaruk. The prize, according to Goyman, "got taken to a completely new level," too: two trips for two to Edmonton to see the Kings play the Edmonton Oilers.
Last year's winners, Nolan Norberg from Kugluktuk and Chad Eetoolook from Gjoa Haven, got to meet the teams, go to a morning skate and even toured the media booth at the arena.
Goyman says he doesn't have exact numbers on how attendance rates changed during the course of the contest, but says that based on anecdotal evidence, the program was a huge success.
"Looking at it from last year, and hearing the stories from some of the parents and the kids in the communities, It puts a smile on my face," he says. "Because it works."
This year, students from 22 schools in Nunavut's Qikiqtani region — which includes the city of Iqaluit as well as hamlets in the territory's northeast — will be eligible to win, as well as students in the Kitikmeot. To be eligible, students must have a 95 per cent attendance rate between Jan. 4 and March 7 and show academic improvement.
Two trips will be up for grabs for lucky winners: a trip to Edmonton for an Oilers game for a Kitikmeot student, and a trip to Ottawa to see the Senators for a student in the Qikiqtani.
The program is sponsored by the hockey teams, Goyman's employer, Advanced Medical Solutions, and First Air.
Nunavut has the lowest high school graduation rate in the country, at 57 per cent.
Goyman hopes to keep expanding the program, offering a similar prize to students in the territory's southern Kivalliq region — the only one not currently included in the program — next year.