Edward Landry of Fort Providence is a long-time coach in minor hockey and had a problem.
Plenty of youth in the community didn’t have any equipment to wear in order to play and he wanted to try and get some.
That’s when he hatched a plan into action and from that, the community now has enough equipment for several sports.
Close to $200,000 worth of sports gear of all kinds arrived in the community on Nov. 15 thanks to the work of Landry and others. The donation, which came courtesy from Sport Central, an Edmonton-based charitable organization which provides donations to communities in need, includes equipment and uniforms for hockey, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, golf and snowboarding.
Landry said the idea started when he was in Edmonton for some physio earlier this year.
“I spoke with (Cpl.) Cagri (Yilmaz, detachment commander for Fort Providence RCMP) and told him I needed to get some gear for the kids,” he said.
Yilmaz came up with the idea of getting in touch with Sport Central, which Landry did.
“I wanted to help our kids,” stated Yilmaz in a news release on Nov. 21. “Team sports can boost kids’ self-esteem, coordination and general fitness, and help them learn how to work with other kids and adults.”
Landry spoke with Don McDonald, Sport Central’s director of outreach, to see what they could do to help, if at all.
“I went to see him and checked out the program,” said Landry. “They have a lot of great stories of communities they’ve helped out in the past.”
Landry then filled out the forms to get the ball rolling and he said it turned into more than just hockey equipment.
“Cagri told me to try and get whatever I could because there wasn’t much here for the kids,” said Landry.
A week after he submitted the application, Landry checked in with Sport Central to see how things were moving along.
He received the news he was looking for.
“They told me the application was approved and they would be taking it from there,” he said.
The next trick was getting everything to Fort Providence and that problem was solved thanks to Manitoulin Transport, which trucked up the gear free of charge.
“That was a big help and without them, I don’t think it would have arrived so soon,” said Landry.
The equipment actually arrived sooner than expected; Landry thought it was going to be in the community on Nov. 19 but a phone call to check on it caused a bit of panic.
“They told me it was in High Level and it was early,” he said with a laugh. “I had to find people and volunteers to help unload all of the stuff that was coming.”
In total, Landry said seven pallets were taken off of the truck and he was surprised with what was there.
“There’s uniforms, there’s balls, there’s hockey sticks,” he said. “Our cup overflowed and our prayers were answered. I’ve been praying for something like this for a long time.”
Sheldon Oleksyn, Sport Central’s executive director, said this isn’t the first time the organization has given donations to the North.
He said Ulukhaktok received a barged donation back in August and they’ve also sent gear to Resolute and Iqaluit in Nunavut.
“We always give more than what’s asked for,” he said. “Part of that is because it’s hard to predict sizes for everyone. Pulling an order together would be tough if we had to go into specifics so we always give a cross-section of sizes and equipment.”
Sport Central’s application process includes several aspects each prospective recipient needs to outline, he added.
“We want to learn more about the community where the donation will be going,” he said. “We want to know what the resources are currently and how it will be used because we have to answer to Revenue Canada for that. Being a charitable organization, we have to show the federal government we’re helping to alleviate poverty so we have what’s known as winning conditions.”
As for how the $200,000 figure came to be, Oleksyn said the retail value of all the merchandise is taken into account.
“We try to price it out in terms of what it would cost a community to buy everything they receive,” he said.
The hockey equipment was set to be handed out on Nov. 21 in time for the start of the minor hockey season, which is this week.
Landry was taking registration forms as of Nov. 21 and he was going to be putting things into bags to hand out. The remainder of the equipment will be going to Deh Gah School and the hamlet.
“This is such a great thing for the community and great for our kids,” said Landry. “There’s going to be a lot of smiles on the kids faces and that’s worth it. I know they’ll enjoy it.”