A free hockey program for Indigenous youth is expanding to the Cowichan Valley.
The Salish Storm Hockey Association has been offering barrier-free access to ice and ball hockey in Nanaimo for more than a year, and is now set to do the same in Duncan.
The SSHA has worked with the Cowichan Valley Regional District to secure ice time at the Cowichan Community Centre. All equipment, coaching and ice fees are completely covered by the Salish Storm.
“Despite its popularity, hockey is an expensive sport that is often out of reach for many of our Indigenous families here on Vancouver Island,” says SSHA board member Aaron White. “We believe that every kid has the right to play, and our goal is to get more Indigenous kids and families involved in hockey.”
While the SSHA programs build on developing skills on the ice, exploration of making healthy life choices, stress management, leadership development and building healthy self-esteem, the Salish Storm is also unique in its promotion of Indigenous teachings and the core values of respect for self and others, interconnectedness, and nutsa’maat shqwuluwun (together with one heart and one mind). The culturally based curriculum engenders a positive sense of Indigenous self-identity and pride in the participants’ cultural history and heritage.
“We have been very fortunate to have the support of local Nations, as well as corporate and public sponsors in order to be able to expand our programs to other Coast Salish Nations in British Columbia,” White says.
The fall sessions run for 12 weeks, beginning on Sept. 12, with another 12-week session slated to start in December. Registration is open at https://register.salishstorm.ca/registration