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Immigrants in Canada learn to play ice hockey | Notebook for children

Immigrants in Canada learn to play ice hockey |  Notebook for children

Jade with Karima Mohamed Karim, 17, an immigrant learning how to play ice hockey

“A lot of these students have never been on the ice or participated in a team sport,” said Pam Sandow, vice principal at Princess Margaret High School. The school is located in Surrey, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. I recently spoke with Sandhu about a new ice hockey program designed for high school girls who are new to Canada.

The program, which began in November 2023, is called Hockey 4 Youth. In Surrey, sponsoring organizations include the Canucks for Kids Fund, a non-profit organization run by the NHL team; Surrey School District; And the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

“Students meet every Monday and are bussed to the North Surry Sports and Ice Complex,” Sandhu said. So far, 25 students have enrolled in the BC program. There is also a program in Toronto. All costs are covered by the program sponsoring organizations.

Many students immigrated to Canada from countries where regulation of sports for women and girls is limited. “The program allows girls to put on the equipment, get on the ice and go skating for the first time,” said Sophie Jarrow, Hockey 4 Youth program coordinator in Surrey. “The ultimate goal is to break down barriers.”

Jade with the Hockey 4 Youth team at the North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex

Instill confidence

I recently attended a Hockey 4 Youth practice to interview some of the players. “I have always been interested in sports,” 17-year-old Karima Mohamed Karim told me. “I've learned a lot in these few months.” A generous family immigrated to Canada from Afghanistan.

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For Jotsmiran Kaur, 16, the opportunity came about as a result of a teacher's recommendation. “My teacher asked me to participate because I am an immigrant,” said Gotsimran, whose family moved to Surrey from India. I jumped at the opportunity to try out a sport played on ice.

As Sandhu said of the program: “It instilled a lot of confidence in the girls. They have a camaraderie now.”

For participants, great coaches and program leaders make a difference. “My favorite part is definitely the coaches,” Karima said. “They are very kind.”

Gotsimran agreed. “They let us do anything on the ice,” she said.

Having fun is the ultimate goal for Hockey 4 Youth, Jarreau said. “We're here to give newcomer kids a chance to play hockey,” she told me. “We're here to see them smile and have fun on the ice.”

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