Inuvik champions girls’ hockey

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Girls’ hockey in Inuvik is growing – and fast. This year’s World Girls’ Hockey event in Inuvik drew twice as many participants as in previous years.

Carolyn Hunter, president of the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association (IMHA) said approximately 30 girls aged five to 17 participated in the event, which aims to increase the number of female hockey players.

A group shot of the girls who participated in Inuvik’s World Girls Hockey Day 2018.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

“This is our fourth event, and by far our biggest event and most successful,” said Hunter. “We started a few years ago … generally we have 10 to 15 girls participate, so this is double what we’re used to.”

The event, which is celebrated worldwide, included on-ice time where the girls played skating games, as well as an off-ice pizza, cupcake and craft-making party.

“The theory behind it is to celebrate girls playing hockey, to grow the game of female hockey, in particular in Inuvik and other small communities where girls always have to play in mixed teams,” said Hunter. “It is nice to have an event that is just girls.”

The girls-only event took place Nov. 10, during IMHA’s annual Hockey School weekend.

IMHA’s Hockey School, which is in its 16th year, provides minor hockey players with three days of professional instruction, several ice sessions, a jersey and an opportunity to practice playing hockey games.

Hunter said she thinks the event is important for girls.

The girls enjoyed hockey themed cupcakes after the pizza party.
Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

“Sometimes there are still stereotypes that exist that this is a boys’ game. Everyone wants to play a sport with their peers, so it can be difficult for girls, if there are just one or two of you on a team – you’re not necessarily with your friends from school, which can be difficult,” she said. “So I think you have to have these events so girls understand that they’re not alone, and that there are a lot of girls in hockey. I think that will help grow female hockey.”

Stephanie Leduc, IMHA’s only female hockey coach, spent time on the ice with the girls, coaching and mentoring them.

Leduc agreed – she said the event was important in order to show girls that hockey can be for them, too.

“I think there’s a lot of big male role models out there for hockey. We do have female role models for hockey but there’s just not that many, so for the girls to be able to see that there are older females out there playing hockey … it is important,” said Leduc. “I just try and come out and get the girls to come out. Hockey is still a boys’ sport – we have 30 girls here, compared to the countless boys, and so it’s important that they have a female role model to look up to.”