Toronto hockey community sending 18 tonnes of gear to indigenous communities

Toronto-area hockey fans and players are sending 18 tonnes of gear to indigenous communities in northern Ontario.

Northern communities are 'all about hockey' but need the gear so kids can play, donor says

That's a whole lot of hockey gear that's destined for northern Ontario. (CBC)

That giant pile of hockey equipment you're looking at? Here's what's in it:

  • 18 tonnes of miscellaneous gear
  • 5,000 jerseys
  • 1,000 pairs of skates

That's a lot of gear. And the Etobicoke group that plans to donate all of it to indigenous communities in northern Ontario say they hope it will make a lot of kids very happy. 

Anyway you put it, it's a lot of hockey gear — and it's going to make a lot of kids, very happy.

Gerald Lue is making his second annual hockey gear delivery. (CBC)

Gerald Lue, a member of the Etobicoke Rotary Club, came up with the idea after visiting Fort Hope, Ont., a community some 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.

"I spoke to a couple of schools in the far north, and they're all about hockey," Lue said.

"They'd love to do hockey, but they don't have the equipment," he said. "I think we take it for granted, the access to a hockey arena."

Families, kids and seniors helping out

Before the gear gets there, it needs to be sorted. That task is being done by a group of volunteers, including seniors, and kids as young as four-years-old.

The local hockey community donated everything from jerseys, skates and sticks. (Laura Latham/Etobicoke Rotary Club)

"It's kind of a great thing, that you know you can help a group of kids who don't have equipment," said Chris Szarka, who coaches the Mimico Canadians and brought his whole team to help out.

"There could be an NHL superstar like Jordan Tootoo up there, and he or she may have never gotten the chance because they didn't have the equipment."

Donations were 10 times what they were last year.

"In our wildest dreams we never thought we'd have this amount," said Lue. 

Volunteers are helping sort the gear, though the group still needs some help. (Laura Latham/Etobicoke Rotary Club)

Mikayla, 12, said she doesn't mind giving up one of her last days of the Christmas break to work on the project.

"When you see kids who need hockey stuff, it means a lot to me," she said.

More volunteers needed

Laura Latham of the Etobicoke Rotary Club is in charge of the volunteers and says they could still use more help. 

"This is picking up a lot more momentum than we thought it would, but we're very happy," she said. 

The gear will be flown up to the northern communities early in 2017. (Laura Latham/Etobicoke Rotary Club)

If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact Laura Latham directly at 416-252-6822 or

With files from Nick Boisvert