Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, gets a boys hockey team after almost 50 sets of equipment donated

Michael Small, a teacher at Nuiyak Elementary School, sourced equipment for the boys after the girls in the community got a team together last year.

Girls team participated in a Winnipeg hockey camp this month

Michael Small lays on top of the donated equipment, after he dropped it off in Montreal to be shipped to Sanikiluaq. (Submitted by Michael Small)

High school boys in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, will get their first hockey team this winter, after almost 50 sets of equipment were donated.

It won't be the community's first hockey team, however; high school girls in the community formed a team last winter, after receiving more than 40 sets of hockey gear worth $20,000 from the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program.  

Michael Small, a teacher at Nuiyak Elementary School in Sanikiluaq, got the ball rolling two years ago when girls from the local high school said they wanted to play, but had no equipment.

Michael Small poses with the hockey equipment as it's loaded for shipment North from Montreal. (Submitted by Michael Small)

Small contacted Sami Jo Small, who won gold — twice — with Canada's Olympic women's hockey team, and she put him in touch with the Jumpstart program.

"Words can't even describe it," Michael Small said of the impact the gear has had on youth in the community. "It is just so amazing." 

"Watching them grow, and their skill levels and their camaraderie, and just their confidence in playing hockey and in the community."

Hockey Canada flew coaches to Sanikiluaq and ran a clinic for the team in March.  This month, 12 girls from the community participated in Sami Jo Small's hockey camp in Winnipeg.

'Big hole in the community'

But until now, the boys had been relegated to the bleachers to watch the girls play.

"That kinda left this big hole in the community for the boys," Michael Small said.

A high-school in Ottawa was looking for a way to reciprocate a favour after Michael Small helped out a former student there with a fundraising campaign. Small suggested fundraising for a boys hockey team.

Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School helped collect around 20 complete bags of hockey gear and got the Ottawa Senators Foundation to donate the rest.

Michael Small said with nearly 50 sets of gear collected, any boy between the ages of 11 and 18 in the community who's interested should be able to claim a bag of gear. He's now working on finding equipment for boys and girls aged six- to 10-years old.

"At the end of the day, these kids in Sanikiluaq, they need programming. They need stuff to keep them occupied, they need stuff to help build confidence," he said.

"It helps encourage teamwork and working together."

With files from Jordan Konek