Don Simmonds, left, and Ryan Lavrench in Dryden making preparations for the trip.

Don Simmonds, left, and Ryan Lavrench in Dryden making preparations for the trip.

Unlike many competitive hockey players who hang up their skates after high school, eight former members of the Uxbridge Secondary School Tigers are banding together again and flying to a remote First Nations community to teach others to play the sport they love. Inspired by their coach, Don Simmonds, a member of Uxbridge Baptist Church, the group will travel to the isolated community of Weagamow (Oji-Cree for “Round Lake”) to lead a week-long hockey clinic for the community over the Christmas holiday.

During their visit, they will stock up a newly-built community arena with more than 75 pairs of skates so that more local children can learn to play.  Equipment donations for this purpose – even from former rival high school hockey team members – have poured in. And due to the generosity of a private pilot from Burlington, Ontario, a first shipment of 500 lbs of hockey gear has already been taken on the six-hour journey directly to the Weagamow airport.

Uxbridge Baptist Church has lent their support to this Hope Through Hockey endeavour by providing administrative oversight for the trip. For the past several years, the church has sent missions teams to remote First Nations communities, and offered to share their travel and logistics expertise with the Hope Through Hockey group.

Weagamow has been described as a community beset by poverty, addiction and suicide.  But Uxbridge Baptist Church and the members of the Hope Through Hockey team believe that events such as this can foster collaboration and instil a new sense purpose in the next generation. The reunited Tigers look forward to helping others experience the sense of accomplishment that comes through learning and applying newly-developed skills both on and off the ice.

Read more on durhamregion.com

Jamie and Cheryl French, equipment coordinators for the project, take inventory of the array of equipment donated for the trip north.

Jamie and Cheryl French, equipment coordinators for
the project, take inventory of the array of equipment donated for the trip north.

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