Sask. town receives $10K grant to promote diversity in hockey


Drake, Sask. has received $10,000 from the Kruger Big Assist Program for their work to promote diversity, inclusion, and equality in the game of hockey in their community.

The Kruger Big Assist Program works to help keep Canadian kids on the ice and apart from the hockey family.

The town of Drake listed its population just under 200 back in 2016, but it has grown thanks to immigrant families from other countries and areas of Canada who have moved in.

“We’re seeing families from all over the world: Guatemala, Ukraine, South Africa, and lots of families from the Philippines,” said Brittany Smith, a local resident and teacher.

Smith noted that the local rink is the common place to hang out for almost every family.

“The rink is really the hub of our community from October until March. We don’t have any restaurants, we don’t have a gas station, we don’t even have a post office anymore,” said Smith. “So the rink really is the place to go.”

The town wanted its newcomer families to experience life at the rink and get involved with hockey but knew the cost could play a role in whether or not they try the sport, so they sought the help of The Kruger Big Assist Program.

“We have so many diverse people moving to town and our minor hockey association was struggling to get members so I applied for it,” said Smith.

Drake is one of 15 communities across Canada to receive the $10,000 grant.

With ties to Mallard, Man. and the Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan, former Olympian and now National Hockey League (NHL) scout, Brigette Lacquette, wanted to get involved with the program.

“It’s about making hockey more accessible to families and this money goes a long way,” said Lacquette. “I want to encourage kids from all backgrounds to play hockey and make it more inclusive.”

Lacquette made history as the first female Indigenous hockey player to play for Team Canada at the Olympics and became the first female Indigenous NHL scout for the Chicago Blackhawks.

“It’s about breaking down barriers such as racism. I didn’t have that person in my sport before me and being able to be that person it honestly warms my heart,” said Lacquette.

The money from Kruger Big Assist will help cover the minor hockey fees next season and Drake hopes to be able to use some of the funds to cover equipment costs for those trying out the sport.

“It supports us perfectly of getting those people of diverse programs and bringing them together with a love of hockey, and a love of community, and inclusion,” said Smith.

You can find out more about Kruger Big Assist on its website.

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