Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik February 13, 2017 - 11:45 am

Nunavik cuts funding to well-known select hockey program

Makivik, KRG want to "develop hockey at the community level"

SARAH ROGERS
Coach Joé Juneau gave players on the Nunavik Nordiks' Pee Wee team a pep talk during a 2011 game. (FILE PHOTO)
Coach Joé Juneau gave players on the Nunavik Nordiks' Pee Wee team a pep talk during a 2011 game. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavik’s multimillion dollar crime prevention fund has opted not to finance the region’s popular select hockey program, the regional organizations which manage the fund said last week.

In 2006, former National Hockey League player Joé Juneau helped to launch the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program, which trains and develops young hockey players on the condition they attend school.

Nunavik’s Ungaluk crime prevention program has funded the NYHDP, providing about $2.2 million a year, over the last decade. The $300 million crime prevention fund pays out roughly $10 million a year to regional projects which promote social well-being.

But a Makivik Corp. and Kativik Regional Government-led committee that oversees fund decided earlier this month to cut about $900,000 from the NYHDP’s annual budget—the portion of the budget that funded the program’s select hockey teams, which participate in annual tournaments outside the region.

“The joint executives took a unanimous decision to develop hockey at the community level in Nunavik, with more focus on regional hockey development instead of competitions in southern Quebec, and to ensure that greater number of youth have access to supported hockey for a longer period of time at the community level,” Makivik and the KRG said in a joint release Feb. 10.

In recent years, Juneau 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.

In 2014, Ungaluk revised its funding criteria to give priority to projects that help reduce substance abuse and addiction across the region.

The NYHDP has also recently undergone an audit by the firm Goss Gilroy Inc., which found the program’s select element did not meet Ungaluk’s crime prevention and community building requirements.

The evaluation found the program did not appear to have made a positive influence on school attendance; in fact, the select teams southern tournaments were noted as disruptive to the students’ schedules. Instead, the report recommended the program be restructured.

This year, the NYDHP will receive $1.3 million to operate. Makivik and KRG said the funding cut will impact fewer than one-fifth of the program’s participants.

As NYHDP’s lead, Juneau said he’s hopeful the organization can find other sources of income to keep its select program alive.

“It has been an enormous pleasure to work with and for Nunavik’s youth for the past 11 years in developing great positive leadership, with great educators and coaches teaching so much to so many children and teenagers over those years; a program that is totally in link with crime prevention,” Juneau said.

Next, Makivik and the KRG said they’ll rely on input from a regional committee made up of community members and youth recreation leaders to determine how best to develop hockey in Nunavik.

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