MANITOWANING—The Assiginack arena has been nominated in the Kraft Hockeyville contest by the Manitowaning Minor Hockey Association (MMHA). Kraft Hockeyville is an annual competition developed by CBC Sports and sponsored by Kraft Foods, the NHL and the NHL Players Association in which communities across Canada compete to demonstrate their commitment to the sport of hockey.
“How does your arena inspire your passion for hockey and community spirit?” the Hockeyville website asks. “Share your story for a chance to win: an NHL pre-season game, $100,000 in arena upgrades and a visit from CBC. This year there are even more chances to win, with a total of $1 million in prizes going to 16 hockey communities across Canada.
The Assiginack arena has been nominated by Jackie White, an MMHA executive. She writes in part, “there is a spirit that comes alive with such a force that unless you witness it, you cannot fathom it. It happens every year in late autumn when the leaves fall and the cold north wind starts to blow. It all starts with the turning of a key. This key unlocks the coveted building where unknowingly to them, our children are taught some valuable life lessons.”
“Successes and failures are learned, humility and pride are instilled, lifetime friendships are forged and children learn what it is like to become a champion in life. This is what happens when the Assiginack arena opens in Manitowaning, signaling the start of our hockey season!” wrote Ms. White.
“Manitowaning, our community which hosts this very special classroom, is located on beautiful Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Although our lives, friendships, lakes and farmlands are rich and abundant, it is a reality that our community is a low socio-economic area where many families have employment that is not only seasonal but also minimum wage. Hockey can only happen here for every child if costs are exceedingly low. Our association has made it its mission to ensure that any child who wants to play hockey has that ability,” continued Ms. White. “Over the years we have worked hard with our community to fundraise in order to offset the costs of ice time, new jerseys and equipment.”
“Our kids learn that winning is not an end, but it is only a goal to strive for. Teamwork, sportsmanship and fun are the key components taught here and these values have instilled a sense of spirit in our community like none other,” wrote Ms. White.
“Like so many other communities, our community is not without its sad stories and hardships. One such tragedy happened 44 years ago when a group of nine teenagers from our town went to a dance in a neighbouring community and were killed in a car accident. While our community grieved such a horrific loss it was decided that a large hall was to be added to the end of our arena with the intent of keeping our kids safe and close in our own community. It did just that and for years every adult in town has grown up and enjoyed at least one dance or dinner there since it was built.”
“As time passed the hall eventually failed new safety codes and with no funds for renovations, the township had no choice but to have it closed to the public,” continued Ms. White. “Currently, the youth of Manitowaning are without a community recreation area. A safe place for them to gather, have dances, play games or host events is sadly lacking in our community. It has long been a dream of the people of Manitowaning to renovate and reopen this area not only to provide our kids with a safe place to gather and have fun, but also to honour the memory of our youth who were lost.”
“We believe our community has an unsurpassable spirit and bond that combined with the strong love of our children makes us the next Kraft Hockeyville!” added Ms. White.
Nominations for Kraft Hockeyville are open until February 9.