Kakisa youth gets geared up with the Flames

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A Kakisa youth and his uncle spent a weekend with NHLer Travis Hamonic earlier this month, and came home with new gear and an experience to remember.

Kakisa’s Tarek Chicot, 15, tries on a new pair of skates in Calgary earlier this month while being hosted by the Calgary Flames as part of defenceman Travis Hamonic’s The Northern Project. photo courtesy of the Calgary Flames

Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic started The Northern Project with his wife Stephanie last year. The project brings Indigenous families living in remote, northern communities to Calgary to spend time with Hamonic—who is Métis—and his family, take in a game with the best seats, and go home with some new gear.

Tarek Chicot, 15, lost his father when he was seven years old, which made a big connection with Hamonic, who lost his own father when he was 10.

“He got a lot out of the trip just to be with someone who went through the same experience, being able to talk about it,” said Tarek’s uncle Lloyd Chicot, who accompanied him to Calgary.

News/North was unable to get in touch with Tarek by press time, as he was in exams at Diamond Jenness Secondary School in Hay River.

In a video produced by the NHL about the trip, Tarek said the trip was, “Awesome. To meet an NHL player? Awesome.”

Tarek plays hockey himself, which isn’t always easy in his home community of Kakisa, where he spends weekends during the school year and lives when he’s not in school.

“We don’t have an arena, just an outdoor rink (in winter),” says Lloyd. “His mother drives him to Hay River to practice and that kind of stuff.”

As part of The Northern Project, Tarek got suited up with some new gear: a pair of fitted Bauer skates from Sportchek and some new hockey sticks, including the one Hamonic used in the game they attended – they both shoot right-handed.

Lloyd says Tarek got connected with this opportunity through Diamond Jenness Secondary School. His mom was supposed to go with him originally but had to work, so Lloyd went instead.