WHITEHORSE, YT – Minor hockey youth from across the Yukon and Northwest Territories travelled to Whitehorse for the 15th annual Northwestel Summit Hockey Camp (July 31- August 4) where they took the rare opportunity to develop their skills under the guidance of NHL Calgary Flames’ starting Left Winger Micheal Ferland.
As a Canadian born Indigenous pro-hockey player Ferland offers a unique connection to many of the youth from First Nation communities, helping to foster the Camp’s mandate to develop participants both on and off the ice. Early in his adolescence Ferland found support through sport charities and Indigenous foundations to play at a competitive level. He also understands the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, openly celebrating his third year of sobriety which he attributes to saving both his NHL career and family life.
“The opportunity to have Micheal come North and connect with these kids makes an enormous impact in their lives, it will really resonate when they go back to their communities,” says Summit Camp organizer, Joe Martin. “This program is more than just honing skills on the ice, its designed to inspire and foster leadership that translates in real life. Ferland’s experience and story is one that connects with many of our youth. We are really excited to have him.”
This year’s camp also attracted some other successful Indigenous figures to inspire youth, including 2015 Miss Universe, Ashley Callingbull and Wacey Rabbit (Boston Bruins draft pick) to help develop leadership and goal setting for the youth throughout the week.
In partnership with the Yukon Indian Hockey Association (YIHA) the Northwestel Summit Hockey Camp brings in professional hockey players to facilitate, coach and inspire minor hockey players, several from First Nations communities. Groups, teams and individuals enroll from communities across the Yukon and Northwest Territories to build hard skills and work on personal development. Many participants have gone on to achieve personal success in Junior hockey, University hockey and at professional levels. The Camp is designed so the youth return to their community’s better teammates, friends and role models
To recognize the growing success of the program, organizers, youth and notable community dignitaries including Whitehorse Mayor Curtis, Council of Yukon First Nation (CYFN) Grand Chief Peter Johnson, Yukon Minister of Public Works, Richard Mostyn took to the ice for a short and fun relay with the youth participants, facilitated by Ferland. The event also marked Northwestel’s five-year $50,000 sponsorship renewal which unveiled the Canada Games Centre’s revitalized ‘Northwestel Arena.’
“I am proud to live in such an amazing city where the importance of youth programs and sport are strongly supported by community champions like Northwestel. Through their generous investment in the Summit Hockey Camp and the Canada Games Centre’s Arena, we can offer world-class skills and social development for all of our community’s youth.” said Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis.
“We want to thank the camp organizers and the Yukon Indian Hockey Association for all their work in making this event happen. We are proud to invest in programs such as this, that make a real difference for youth in the North,” said Northwestel President and CEO Paul Flaherty.