Kuujjuaq Atom Hockey Tournament a Success!

Over 130 children aged eight to ten and representing 12 Nunavik communities were recently in Kuujjuaq to participate in the third annual atom tournament under the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program (NYHDP). The tournament was one of four tournaments organized this season to recognize the dedication of many young players towards of the objectives of the NYHDP.

The tournament began on April 7 and was hosted by the Kuujjuaq Minor Hockey Association. Players were joined by more than 20 coaches and chaperones, as well as parents and other fans. At the opening ceremony, Makivik president Pita Aatami mentioned his joy for seeing the program come to life and stated, “I wish I was that age again now and had these opportunities.”

In line with the objectives of the NYHDP, throughout the tournament players demonstrated great team spirit and tried their best in each and every game.

The NYHDP aims to encourage students aged five to 17 to pursue their education while competing in hockey and developing useful life skills. The NYHDP requires players to focus on school, maintain good behaviour and remain active in both their school and community.

“Communities joined together and shared players,” noted Daryl Combden, President of the Kuujjuaq Minor Hockey Association. “Not all of the teams had enough players or even goalies when they arrived. But in the end, the holes in the team rosters were filled and all of the children had a lot of fun.”

When not on the ice playing hockey, goalie clinics, movie nights and other activities were organized to keep everyone entertained. The players and coaches from other communities slept in the gymnasium at Jaanimmarik School.

“The tournament would not have been possible without the contribution of many local volunteers, including pee-wee, bantam and midget hockey players. As well, the support provided by Nunavik communities, Bell Canada, Air Inuit, Heirloom Portraits and the public relations firm National was key,” mentioned Mr. Aatami.

The principals and academic supervisors of the Kativik School Board School also supported the organization of the tournament by making sure that each player had remained committed to their schooling through the past season. And most of the hockey equipment used by the players was provided by organizations such as NHLPA Goals and Dreams program, Montreal Canadian Children’s Foundation and the Canadian Tire Bon Depart program.

The final game was held on Saturday, April 10 between Kuujjuaq and Quaqtaq. While Quaqtaq players were the victors of that game, all the tournament’s participants left Kuujjuaq as winners: taking home a positive experience and the memories of many new friendships.