WHAT IS NORTHERN EXCHANGE?
Building on the rousing success of MCHA’s recent used equipment drive for remote northern communities, MCHA has been presented with a unique opportunity to grow our support for grassroots hockey in northern Canada, while providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Mimico youth to experience life in the Canadian arctic.
Do you remember your first trip to Toronto? The excitement of seeing the CN Tower for the first time, going to the Toronto Islands, a museum or concert? Can you imagine what that would be like for a group of kids from one of Canada’s most remote arctic communities?
This spring, 16 kids from Pond Inlet, (also called ‘Mittimatalik’ in Inuktitut) Nunavut will be traveling more than 3,200 kilometers to see Toronto for the first time. And we’d like your help to give them memories that will last a lifetime!
We’ve Already Overcome the Biggest Barrier
The Mimico Canadiens Major Peewee Hockey Team has been awarded a significant grant from Experiences Canada, to fund a unique cultural exchange with its “Twin” Peewee hockey team in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. The grant, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada, helped us overcome one of the biggest barriers of traveling to and from the north – the cost of transportation. The grant is bringing our teams (boys and girls ages 12-13) together by covering the expense of round trip flights to Toronto and Pond Inlet for each team and four adult chaperones. But that’s where our funding ends and where we need your help.
Making it a Trip to Remember
This amazing cultural exchange is being organized by volunteer parents and coaches. As part of the exchange, each player will be “twined” with a hockey family to experience life in their respective communities. Host families will provide all amenities for each youth matched with the players in our homes. Each player is also working hard to fundraise on their own through community bottle drives, shot challenges and other local initiatives.
We know that the kids from Pond Inlet have lots they want to see and do in Toronto and we’re working hard to make their wish list come to life. A visit to the top of the CN Tower is high on the list. So is swimming… since there are no public swimming pools in Pond Inlet. And since the kids live well above the tree line, we’d also like to take them on nature hikes outside the city where they can feel what it’s like to be surrounded by trees for the first time.
About the Exchange Program:
- What are the objectives of the exchange program? The Experiences Canada – Exchanges program objectives are: a) enhance youth knowledge and understanding of Canada, b) connect and create linkages between Canadian youth, and c) help young Canadians enhance their appreciation of the diversity and shared Canadian experience.
- Who can participate in the exchange program? The MCHA-RIMH exchange will involve one team of Atom players and one team of PeeWee players (approx. 30-32 youth) from each community. The Atom and PeeWee Select teams have been selected to participate, pending confirmation of participation by individual families. Should these families decline to participate, others MCHA youth may be invited to participate up to 30-32 total participants.
- When will the exchange take place? There are two segments to the exchange. Pond Inlet youth will travel to Mimico in early March 2019, while Mimico youth will travel to Pond Inlet in late April 2019, coinciding with the Pond Inlet spring festival.
- How long is the exchange? Each segment will be 8-10 days, including travel. Participants would be absent from school for a week in March and a week in April.
- What is the cost to participate in the program? While the Experiences Canada funding defrays a significant portion of the costs, travel to the Canadian arctic is extremely expensive – a return plane ticket from Toronto-Pond Inlet costs $2,000+ alone. At this time, a preliminary budget of $1,500 per participant has been set, although group fundraising is expected to cover a significant portion of this cost. Final budget figures and fundraising targets will be set once program participation and trip itinerary is confirmed (April-May).
- Commitment and active engagement from participating youth and families is essential to making this exchange a success. At least one parent or caregiver from each family will be asked to join on of the organizing sub-committees. All participants will be expected to participate in fundraising efforts, including the youth participants.