Nova Scotia

More than a game: RCMP and Preston community members face off to build ties

A stronger relationship between the RCMP and the Preston area was the goal of a weekend charity hockey game at Cole Harbour Place.

'It kind of brings us together in a positive light,' says RCMP officer

Corey Simmonds, left, Marcus Simmonds, centre, and Justin Simmonds are part of an annual hockey game to build ties between the RCMP and the Preston area. (Kaitlyn Swan/CBC)

A stronger relationship between the RCMP and the Preston area was the goal of a weekend charity hockey game at Cole Harbour Place.

"As a Canadian, you love hockey, and we're coming together for a greater cause," said RCMP Const. Justin Simmonds, the organizer of this year's game. 

The game is a way to strengthen ties, said Simmonds.

Earlier this year, a report by University of Toronto criminology professor Scot Wortley found black people in the Halifax area were six times more likely to be street checked by police than white people

Simmonds said he wants the annual event to build trust. "It kind of brings us together in a positive light," he said.

Simmonds grew up in North Preston and now serves as an RCMP officer in the same community. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

The public was invited to attend the game. Organizers teamed up with Feed Nova Scotia and put out a call for non-perishable food donations.

From Preston, serving Preston

Simmonds grew up in Ontario but spent his summers with his grandmother in North Preston. He vowed he would one day be an RCMP officer serving his community. 

Now he is. "It's a personal connection. I want to do something right," said Simmonds. 

Although Simmonds isn't playing in this year's game, his cousin was on the roster.

"Tonight's the night we win," said Corey Simmonds, an RCMP officer in Dartmouth, said prior to the game. 

Corey Simmonds skates for the RCMP team. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Corey represented the RCMP for the third time.

He says he hopes there will be more participation in the coming years. "Maybe we can turn this into a tournament and we can get a few more teams."

Hockey inaccessibility 

There are no rinks in the Preston communities.

"It's not easily accessible to get to the rink, even though there's one in Cole Harbour, which isn't too far away," said Corey. "Still, a kid can't just walk there after school. It's kind of tough." 

Marcus is an online personal trainer and grew up in North Preston. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Corey's brother, Marcus, who played competitively for 15 years, plays for Preston.

He said he wants kids to know they can play hockey, too.

He said Preston communities are dominated by basketball and football, so the hockey event is a way to expose young people to other sports.

"It's going to benefit the community," he said. "Maybe we'll have some youth really get into hockey."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kaitlyn Swan is a Cree multimedia journalist from Regina. Three years ago she traded the sound of trains for the sound of foghorns. She now lives in Dartmouth, N.S., constantly pumped about water and windy roads, scenery she didn't get often in the Prairies. Reach her on Twitter @SaitlynKwan, or by email kaitlyn.swan@cbc.ca

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