Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik February 15, 2017 - 10:00 am

Hockey program advocates say Nunavik leadership made a bad call

"Losing this will be a big blow"

The Nunavik Nordiks Bantams celebrate victory in 2015 in Saint-Raymond, Quebec when the team won the local tournament's Bantam A championship. But championships like this may be no more, since the NYHDP's select team funding was cut earlier this month. (FILE PHOTO)
The Nunavik Nordiks Bantams celebrate victory in 2015 in Saint-Raymond, Quebec when the team won the local tournament's Bantam A championship. But championships like this may be no more, since the NYHDP's select team funding was cut earlier this month. (FILE PHOTO)

Staff, players and families involved with the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program say the findings of the program’s 2016 evaluation don’t fall in line with their own experience.

The 11-year-old hockey development program lead by former NHL player Joé Juneau was recently reviewed to see if it met the criteria for continued funding under Nunavik’s Ungaluk crime prevention fund.

The evaluation found parts of the NYHDP fell short on key criteria: crime prevention, community building and promoting school attendance.

That lead Makivik Corp. and the Kativik Regional Government to cut part of the program’s funding earlier this month—about $900,000, money that paid for the NYHDP’s select program.

“How do they not see?” said Jobie Jr. Kasudluak over the phone from the noisy Sikuluk arena in Inukjuak where he works as the program’s local logistics co-ordinator. “If this is gone, what will the kids have? Losing this will be a big blow.”

Over the two years he’s worked with the NYHDP, Kasudluak said he’s seen it draw about 100 local players and full teams for each category.

In recent years, the NYHDP has helped to groom a handful of select teams, the Nunavik Nordiks, whose players have gone on to win championships in southern tournaments.

But the program has also come under fire for its elitism and it academic requirements, motivating some Nunavik communities to launch their own hockey development programs.

Kasuluak said he’s not sure how an evaluation of the program failed to recognize the work the program has done to engage youth and keep them involved in school. The program helps youth develop not only the athletic skills to play the game, he said, but also social and life skills.

“I noticed the kids are disappointed they won’t be able to go south anymore,” Kasudluak said. “They seem to have lost motivation.”

Although there are other recreation programs in the Hudson coast community, Kasudluak said few have had the staying power of the NYHDP.

“We didn’t have this kind of program growing up,” he said. “These kids are very lucky.”

Kasudluak said he’s concerned the decision to cut funding to the program was a personal one, made by Makivik and KRG executives who take issue with aspects of the program.

Joé Juneau, NYHDP’s long-time coordinator, won’t speculate on the reason behind the decision but he believes the evaluation process fell short.

Juneau said the evaluation did not capture the program’s day-to-day activity; practices, training sessions, social events in between tournaments and classroom time.

Over last year’s select season, Juneau estimates the players spent about 135 hours on the ice and another 130 hours in class, time that wasn’t reflected in the review.

“It was based on interviewing people,” he said. “For me, if you say you’re evaluating a program, you need to be there. We have seen amazing progress so I cannot accept that the evaluation says our program hasn’t done anything for crime prevention.”

The program received a number of letters of support from players, their families, coaches and organizations outside of Nunavik, sent to Makivik and the KRG last month to consider in their decision on funding.

One came from Kyle Aitchison, a former NYHDP player from Kuujjuaq who is now studying in Montreal.

“The program not only developed my hockey skills, the structure of the program helped me to develop stronger social skills and to be a team player,” wrote Aitchison, who said he learned to eat well, exercise and live independently as a result of the program.

“The program provides a sense of belonging in a team setting while developing important life skills for youth who are facing very difficult challenges in all our communities.”

Juneau said the decision to cut the select program funding makes even less sense when he reads letters like Aitchison’s.

“If it’s about money they’d like to invest somewhere else, that’s fine with me,” he said. “But don’t come up with this [idea] that it doesn’t hold the road. It’s just not what we saw.”

Although Juneau co-ordinates the program largely from outside the region, he argues that the NYHDP has made major strides in laying the foundation for hockey programming in many Nunavik communities, led by local coaches and staff.

As a result, select teams have won 10 provincial tournaments over the last four years, he said, while a handful of players have gone on to play in competitive minor hockey leagues across Quebec.

But it’s up to Makivik and the KRG now to decide how the program should move forward, if it should include select teams and how they would be funded.

Juneau has been asked to sit on a new advisory committee struck to look at those options, but he said he hasn’t heard any details about when the group will meet.

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(26) Comments:

#1. Posted by Northern Guy on February 15, 2017

$900K to develop and groom 15 kids so that they can compete and win in southern tournaments? Looks pretty elitist to me. Meanwhile grassroots efforts to develop hockey at the community level get next to nothing. Sounds like the KRG made the right choice. Minor hockey should be inclusive and that means focusing on way more than just winning and being “competitive”.

#2. Posted by We could do more than just hockey on February 15, 2017

I would like to see other activities become available for other children who do not play hockey.  Not every child has a mind set of only hockey.

We should be offering other activities, such as, music lessons, acting lessons, cooking with what Nunavik foods has to offer.  Sewing and Hunting skills.  Boy Scouts and Brownies and Girl Guides. Babysitting clubs,

Our schools should have cafeteria’s by now, but most don’t unfortunately.
Our students should be involved in activities such as movies nites, dance nites.  A book club, etc.

We should, and we could if we all put a little effort into this.  smile

#3. Posted by Northern Guy on February 15, 2017

#2 I couldn’t agree more! There needs to be all kinds of different opportunities available to all the kids within a community and that goes way beyond just supporting minor hockey. But if you are going to focus on minor hockey then make sure that as many kids as possible can benefit from the investment and not just an elite 15.

#4. Posted by Nunvavik concerned citizen on February 15, 2017

I am disappointed to see a program that is working for our youth and students being negatively portrayed as an entity that is not working in Nunavik. Is it because that this program is well organized, well coordinated to better the future of our children? The hockey program includes the importance of schooling, and respecting others be it on the ice and around their communities. We should remember that the program is just coming out of its’ puberty to the next level. How sad.

#5. Posted by give it a second thought on February 15, 2017

if someone wants to do something else other than a hockey program go ahead and apply for a project under Ungaluk program, but I am pretty disappointed with Makivik and KRG for their cut on the program.

#6. Posted by Correct on February 15, 2017

People are correct to say not all the students of Nunavik are interested in hockey.  Of those interested in hockey, just as many girls as boys are into it also. 

Encourage students in more ways please for the same amount of money.  There is a lot of opportunity in the world that Inuit need to pursue.

#7. Posted by Chesley on February 15, 2017

Good call, it is not for many, not with the injuries that come with the sport, parents have concerns about that. That ultra competitive nature is also not in Inuit culture, learning to live and work and enjoy together is more important. Ungaluk funds are freed up that can be used in other more inclusive programs.

#8. Posted by Amaruq on February 15, 2017

A Suggestion Box for Students in School is one to think about, students have high hopes and dreams for their futures, we have some who are involved in recreational activities, survival skills training, arts and crafts, and or business training programs. Even a Healing Program or a supportive program would help stop bullying in schools, give the students confidence in themselves and don’t let them stop dreaming big for their future.

#9. Posted by give it a second thought on February 15, 2017

#7 now the question is, who is willing to give time and effort to do other project for the kids for the freed up funds?

#10. Posted by long term resident on February 15, 2017

Here we go again with the “what will the kids do”... well, the 2-3 per community that are part of the elite program won’t be traveling South anymore… that’s about it, or it should be.  Since the intent of this program originally was to create active local committees that would develop activities for their population (however, this has happened in ... maybe Inukjuak is the only one).

No one is saying that this program did not have some impact on some kids, but to promote it as it is ... it’s not true.

There has been no link between this program and school attendance or performance for many years, and even during the last try-outs/tournament the schools administration received a letter stating that the kids had to not bring homework because they wouldn’t have time to do them… so where is the schooling part??

Local committees need to be more involved and include more players in the games, like has been the case in some community such as Salluit, Kangirsuk and Kuujjuaq.

#11. Posted by Northern Guy on February 15, 2017

#6 very good point!! I don’t see any girls in the picture at the top of this story. How many girl hockey players are being helped by this program?

#12. Posted by Greta on February 15, 2017

If you want to know the results of the program over the past 11 years ask for a quantitative and qualitative analysis be done. The proof of success (or not) will be known without a hesitation of a doubt. And if anyone wants to initiate alternative programs for the youth step up and volunteer their time for a similar committed 11 years.

#13. Posted by make the report public on February 15, 2017

Make the evaluation report available to the public. Let the people read what was discovered. Or is it confidential?

#14. Posted by long term resident on February 15, 2017

#11 - there are girls involved in this program, since there is an all female team, but on a local level, not included in the NYHDP there are also many young girls participating.

#12 - that was done it why it was evaluated that the program did not have the outcome justifying all that spending.

#12 - do you really believe that Mr. Juneau did this program out of the goodness of his heart on a volunteer basis???? LOL

The report is at the bottom of the page on this link

the salaries only are an outrageous portion of the costs.

Read it and then comment…

#15. Posted by pissed off on February 15, 2017

Number 1 post
How ignorant and twisted of you to quote 15 players??

There are a number of teams in different categories and the benefit of the program is not only for those 15 on each team but to the hundreds of hopefull that work hard toward admission to these elite teams.

Please see the fact that to be good at anything you have to work very hard and that hard work is a personality building effort that will stay with those guys and girls for a long time.
And by the way there were girls teams that competed in the South also and they did very well

#16. Posted by Nunavik Local on February 15, 2017

How sad!
I have seen personally how the program has impacted my kids and my family. It brought a sense of joy in my kids when they go to the local rink to practice, be with other kids.
This isn’t about just the 15 or so elites that travel south to play hockey, it is about making friendships, sense of belonging when they step on the ice to practice and a lot more. Isn’t this crime prevention in itself.
I agree with Jobie when he said the decision to cut funding to the program was a personal one. I hope the leaders will reconsider their decision.

#17. Posted by In Agreement on February 15, 2017

I agree with the move. There are other things to spend that huge budget on besides hockey. There is more for youth to do than play hockey. Lots of youth don’t even like hockey. And if they really want to play hockey there are still hockey rinks and equipment available.  They don’t need to travel hither and yon for photo ops. The youth are misled to believe that they have a chance to play in the NHL. Maybe they will. But in realty, how many NHL players had that kind of costly support growing up?  What about traditional Inuit activities, the multitude of other sports, crafts, and other fun things to do? Why does it have to be such SERIOUS hockey? What about the youth learning how to help others in the community who need a helping hand, without getting paid for it or getting treated unrealistically special?  The multitude of other things that this money could be spent on (if it has to be spent on something for the youth) is almost infinite.

#18. Posted by Hilda on February 15, 2017

The program has made a positive impact on children and youth today but not all children and youth are hockey players. What upsets me about the funding provider Ungaluk approving 200K as the highest salary according to the NYHDP evaluation report. As for local projects proposals, we are never approved 100% of funding and I understand it’s in the criterias that they won’t fund 100% of salaries anymore, but the salary portion of local project proposals about about 30K to 40K. To conclude, I hope they will find solutions elsewhere to the portion that is cut.

#19. Posted by Witness of the program on February 16, 2017

NYHDP has made a good impact on hockey development in Nunavik over the past 10 years but with how much funding they were getting, they could have done more. And if Mr. Juneau was more of a team players and didnt feel so threatened by other coaches, the program would have touched more communities and could have developed even more. Joe also has too much of the “my way or the highway” attitude. He has even blocked opportunities for other locally based hockey programs from to coming to life. He has even fired great coaches within the program due to his hard headedness. I think his status of “head honcho” is something he protects too dearly.

#20. Posted by Bert Rose on February 16, 2017

from the 2011 census the population of Nunavik is 12,090. lets do a bit of math -
1,300,000/12090 = $107
Of the population likely 20% are actually involved in hockey so the number goes up
1,300,00/2400 = $541
What else could be done with that amount ?

#21. Posted by Northern Lights on February 16, 2017

Clearly none of the people commenting on this story know anything about how hockey in North America works.  Hockey in Canada and the USA is all about “elitism”.  I think the point of this program was to try and develop elite hockey players from the north.  To me it doesn’t sound like the program was trying to take away from the local minor hockey associations.  It sounds like they are trying to break away from the typical “house league” type associations in small communities and that is a good thing for those athletes that show exceptional skill. There are many talented hockey players in the north that will never get the chance to showcase their skill due to the closed minded people involved in house league hockey associations in the north. Welcome to hockey in Canada folks.

#22. Posted by Annie Popert on February 16, 2017

I am not commenting on this story-only on the commenters. Thank you # 18 and # 20 for not hiding behind a fictitious name-we will continue to have a zoo until such time we can take accountability for our comments. Many respectable newspapers will not allow comments unless real names are used. Let’s raise the bar and take accountibilty for our words! Nakuurmiik!

#23. Posted by long term resident on February 17, 2017

#21 I’m not certain you are aware of all the elements of what is in play here.

If the program was presented as it is - as a performance aimed only program and the best of the best play.. then - no problem.

What i have issues with is that this programs takes 2.2 million a year, of which roughly 22% is the salary of around 10 people, is presented as a lifestyle program that includes all facets of the youth which participates in it…

Don’t lie and try to say school performance and behavior in general are a factor in whether or not you play. When in reality it is not.

Furthermore the funds that are used, are to be used within Nunavik.  There are other funding sources that may not have that restriction.  If people believe so much in this project maybe they should start doing the work and start looking.

#24. Posted by Ungaluk fund should be spent on Northern penitenti on February 17, 2017

The Ungaluk fund really should have been used to build and maintain a jail in the North like it was supposed to be used in the first place.
  That way, the people who are sentenced to jail could receive Northern-type healing and rehabilitation services.  When they return to the communities, the ex-inmates would contribute in more positive ways.  That would truly help the communities be better places and would affect all the inmate’s family members in a positive manner and break the chain of abuse etc.  Instead the money is thrown here and there on all kinds of programs.

#25. Posted by naive on February 18, 2017

OMG #14. I thought that he was volunteering but the report on the page you linked to says:

$454,169 (21.2 % of the hockey expenditure) covers salaries. Just over one half (51.6%) of this supports administrative activities while the remainder supports programmatic work. Salaries range widely; the highest paid NYHDP employee the Coordinator/Chief Instructor receives the equivalent of $261,404 per year (actual cost is $149,000 to work 57% of the year), while the lowest paid employees student LHTs receive the equivalent of $29,250 per year.Not including the LHTs, there are four managers and five staff associated with NYHDP. All manager salaries equate to over $100,000 per year. Staff salaries equate to about half of that amount. Managers and staff work for NYHDP, on average, 112.5 days per year, or 43.2% of the year.

NYHDP employee salaries are generous, particularly at the manager level. A program model involving more modest salaries would reduce overall program costs.

#26. Posted by Nunavik Beneficiary on February 20, 2017

Where can we find autided finance on this program past 11 years? It is Nunavik Beneficiaries budget, it should be open to to see by Nunavik Beneficiaries.
They should just form Hockey committee in each commiunity, it might even be cheaper than letting Ex NHLer to coach elite Nunavik children.
Most of the time hockey committee is ran by parents of the players, each player’s parent has to contribute.
Most of the southern hockey tournaments they attend or play through-out the year is $20k to $30k per annual. But how did Nunavik used around 900k a year? Almost 1 mill!
They are different ways to use the budget, most of the commiuniities now have arena’s it’s about time parents of Nunavik get involved otherwise we will keep seeing people take advantages of the budget.

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