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Empowering Indigenous youth: One hockey team's mission

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What started as a hockey team wanting to make a difference for local Indigenous youth years ago turned into a massive nationwide endeavour.

A local organization in Barrie is hosting an annual hockey bag drive to collect hockey equipment for Indigenous communities across Canada.

Inspired by the first hockey drive in 2015, there have since been numerous drives, each growing larger than the last, where equipment is accumulated and donated to multiple Indigenous communities in Ontario.

"What started as eight bags and 20 sticks for one community 10 years ago is growing exponentially," said Graham Mcwaters, the founder and organizer of the Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive. "We've been getting out a lot of equipment at the beginning of the year; we went all the way to Manitoba, up north of Ontario."

The equipment was first delivered to Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island. Since then, the organization has delivered 100 bags and 200 sticks to Indigenous members in Behchoko, Northwest Territories and communities northwest of Yellowknife.

McWaters will host a hockey drive to collect 1,000 hockey bags for Indigenous communities.

"We know that hockey is very cost-prohibited, and we know that some of these remote communities and some of the communities we're supporting might not be able to afford this hockey equipment, so we gather it and give it to these communities," shared Mcwaters.

The drive is in collaboration with Barrie Police Services, Simcoe Paramedic Services, Barrie Minor Hockey Association, Barrie Women's Hockey Association, and National Training Rinks Barrie.

The drive will be held at AMJ Self Storage at 100 Saunders Road in Barrie from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

"We're putting kids into such a healthy environment, health and wellness. It's all about that, and helping the young children in Indigenous communities," concluded Mcwaters.

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