Enjoying sports together helps build community and a sense of belonging.
That’s what happened last Thursday, November 14 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre right here in Peterborough, Ontario in a partnership with the Peterborough Petes for Try Hockey Night.
60 newcomers from 10 countries between the ages of 6 and 60 laced up skates outfitted by Rebound Skates and Golf and hit the ice rink at the Memorial Centre ahead of the Peterborough Petes vs. Niagara Ice Dogs game. For many, this was their first time skating.
On the ice, the first time skaters were assisted by more than 10 members of the PGHA Peewee AA Ice Kats who offered one-on-one and group support in skating and the basics of hockey.
Community blossomed on the ice, as newcomers formed new friendships with the Ice Kats. Many created their own “celly” handshakes each time a goal was made. At the end of the Try Hockey event, one Ice Kat dashed across the rink to give a final handshake to her new friend who she spent the evening teaching.
Following an hour of ice time, the 60 new skaters were joined by 140 other newcomers in the stands to watch the Petes take on the IceDogs. The 200 tickets were made possible by a generous donation made by the Gainey Foundation earlier in the fall to help increase newcomers’ connection to the sport.
Over 23 countries were represented in the stands by the 200 newcomers present.
“He loves hockey! He plays all the time at school. It’s always hockey, hockey, hockey!”
For some newcomers, this was their first time witnessing a hockey game. But for others, like Ajil Almoussa and Mohamed Hajtaleb, hockey has become a part of their life.
Ajil, 20, enjoys watching hockey at home and cheering on his favourite teams.
And 9-year old Mohamed who has been in Canada for less than a year dreams of becoming a hockey player one day. “He plays all the time at school. It’s always hockey, hockey, hockey!” his mom says laughing.
“We had the opportunity to learn more about Canada. I want to thank the people who made it possible for us to get to know Canada. I like it here!”
Events like this provide tangible opportunities for newcomers to integrate into their new home, ultimately helping to enhance their sense of belonging. Natalia Mischenko and her husband Iurii were the first to sign up to Try Hockey. The Mischenkos, from Russia, are here visiting their son and daughter-in-law and have become regular faces at various events and English groups at the New Canadians Centre. With the help of Google Translate, Natalia shares her appreciation for the opportunity to try hockey. “We had the opportunity to learn more about Canada. I want to thank the people who made it possible for us to get to know Canada. I like it here!”, says Natalia, giving a double thumbs-up.
Try Hockey Night with the Peterborough Petes brought the quintessential Canadian sport of hockey to many new Canadians. Hockey now has 200 new new Canadian fans in Peterborough.
This story is part of the New Canadians Centre’s #WeBelong Campaign – Celebrating 40 Years of Inspiring and Encouraging Newcomers.
The #WeBelong Campaign shares powerful stories of Belonging, Home, Hope, and Community from our 40 Years. Follow along with the stories and opportunities on our page: www.nccpeterborough.ca/webelong