Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 22, 2014 - 2:01 pm

Star athletes to visit Iqaluit, seeking support for sports, recreation

Group to donate 100 bags of hockey gear during afternoon of activities at Nakasuk School

PETER VARGA
Michelle Valberg with two hockey enthusiasts in Arctic Bay this past May, where her non-profit group Project North provided hockey equipment to kids in the community. Project North and Canadian Tire Corp. will donate 100 bags of equipment for youth in Iqaluit at a special “Active at School” event hosted by Canadian Tire Aug. 25. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELLE VALBERG)
Michelle Valberg with two hockey enthusiasts in Arctic Bay this past May, where her non-profit group Project North provided hockey equipment to kids in the community. Project North and Canadian Tire Corp. will donate 100 bags of equipment for youth in Iqaluit at a special “Active at School” event hosted by Canadian Tire Aug. 25. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELLE VALBERG)

School doesn’t start on Iqaluit until Sept. 2 and Sept. 3, but a group of Olympic gold-medal winners promise to make the idea of coming back more attractive when they drop in on Iqaluit Aug. 25.

Winter Olympic medal winners Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably Canada’s best women’s hockey player of all time, speed skater Charles Hamelin and bobsledder Kaillie Humphries will join Arctic sports athlete Johnny Issaluk in an afternoon visit to Nakasuk School, where they will promote a national program called “Active at School.”

Founded by Canadian Tire Corp., Active at School draws support from more than 60 organizations across the country.

Launched in 2013, the program’s goal is to encourage kids to become more physically active.

The sports celebrities will come to Iqaluit with Canadian Tire president Mike Medline, first to announce a financial contribution to sports and recreation in Nunavut.

A second presentation will follow later in the day with Project North, a hockey equipment and education initiative well known to Nunavummiut.

The organizations will donate 100 bags of hockey equipment for Iqaluit youth.

“That’s a joint donation between Canadian Tire and Project North,” said Ryan Cowieson, spokesperson for Canadian Tire, which will host both events at the Nakasuk School Gymnasium.

The big donation marks the first time Project North will contribute hockey equipment to the youth of Iqaluit. The non-profit group’s president, Michelle Valberg, said Iqaluit will be the 15th Nunavut community they have donated to so far.

Canadian Tire knew of Project North’s work in the territory, and the two have worked together before.

“They wanted to make a sizeable donation,” Valberg said.

“When we go to a community it’s usually about 25 to 30 sets of brand new hockey gear. Knowing that Iqaluit is obviously a much larger community, we needed a sizeable donation.”

“They were happy to support us, to give to Iqaluit, and we wanted to do this jointly,” she said.

“We’re working with the minor hockey association to help find the children who will benefit from these bags,” she added. “We’d like to see them being active and attending school, and not having necessarily the means to buy the hockey equipment.”

Canadian Tire’s financial contribution for sports and recreation earlier in the afternoon will contribute to the costs of sports programs and recreation overall, “not just hockey,” Cowieson said.

“Active at School is for a variety of sports and recreational activities,” he said.

“Physical activity stations” will abound throughout the Nakasuk school gym all afternoon “to get kids active,” Canadian Tire said in a recent news release.

The winter athletes will meet and greet all visitors during the physical activities and a community barbecue, which takes place at the end of the afternoon until 6 p.m.

Active at School grew out of concerns that Canadian youth are more inactive today than ever before in the country’s history. Canadian Tire invited more than 60 private and non-profit organizations to start the initiative, which calls for greater physical activity in schools.

Nakasuk School in Iqaluit will host the Active at School activities Monday, Aug. 25, starting at 1:00 p.m. Canadian Tire and Project North will make their joint donation of equipment at 4:00 p.m.

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