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Season-opening hockey camp touches on literacy, personal growth

Literacy plays a big role with the more than 200 youth involved in the Northwestel Rankin Rock season-opener hockey camp, focusing on personal growth with the youngsters and helping them to understand hockey's impact on the community of Rankin Inlet and how it far transcends the game they play on the ice.

A group of youth participants have a blast during their hockey camp literacy module at the Pop-up Library in Rankin Inlet on Oct. 22.
Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

This year was no different as the literacy instructors got them to look at what the game of hockey — not just as a sport you play on the ice — entails when they're off the ice and involved with their community.

Kelly Lindell of Ilitaqsiniq: Nunavut Literacy Council was the head instructor for the camp's literacy module, and said they worked with the kids on goal setting this year; coming up with individual goals for the upcoming hockey season and how they planned to achieve those goals.

She said the groups also talked about role models who the youths respected in the hockey community, or in the community in general.

We discussed with them why they looked up to different role models and what do they see the role models doing for them,” said Lindell.

We also discussed the fact with them that they will eventually be role models for kids coming behind them in the community, and what that might look like when the time arrives.

When I knew I was doing the literacy component for the camp this year I reached out to more than 30 hockey players in our community who went away to play hockey, played hockey for a period of time down south and for who hockey has been a big influence on their lives.

I asked if they could send a short video message to the younger children in the camp offering any kind of advice they may want to give them on the camp or hockey in general, and we received videos from about 15 hockey players, including some who are away right now and Jordin Tootoo.”

Lindell said the messages combined for about a 15-minute video for the young players from an impressive list of Rankin hockey players past and present, many of whom were people's role models in their own right.

She said the literacy module helps the young players identify what they're all ready good at, what they have to work on and how they're going to achieve their goal.

The approach helps to show the kids that this isn't all just about the sport of hockey as a game being played on the ice.

It's also about the person they want to be, the citizen in their community they want to be and the good deeds they're capable of doing.

It's about taking a stance against bullying and making sure everyone feels included — these are the types of issues we try to focus on and the message we try to deliver to the kids during the literacy module.”

Lindell said the groups of kids were really big in the literacy module this year.

She said because the players are in the setting that they are with the game and their teams, conversations on personal growth and behaviour often come up naturally.

When you have an issue, how do we deal with it? Even how does one express their feelings properly? These all come into play with this setting.

The kids have been away from the game awhile. It's their first real time on the ice this year, so they're tired and emotions run a little high, at times.

The group leaders had tons of patience with the kids this year and kept a handle on any little flare-ups that may have occurred. So, again, conversations on these kinds of things tend to happen somewhat naturally in a hockey setting.

We weren't allowed to use the schools and stuff like that this year due to Covid, so we did the best we possibly could with what we had and everyone seems pleased. We're grateful to Sarliaq for providing the bus services. That was key to keeping everything moving so the kids could still have their personal growth and fitness sections as part of their camp.”