Team Alberta North Junior Female and U15 Male are each looking for a head coach and two assistant coaches to lead them at the 2024 Arctic Winter Games in Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Mat-Su), Alaska, March 9-16.
Eligible applicants must reside on or above the 55th parallel in Alberta, hold a valid passport and provide a Criminal Record/Vulnerable Sector Check. Coaches are required to be certified in the relevant coaching certification and Respect in Sport for Activity Leaders.
Successful applicants must be available for selection camp (U15 Male – November 24-26 in Peace River; Junior Female – December 1-3 in Manning), coaches meetings, team training and staging and the duration of the Arctic Winter Games.
The Arctic Winter Games are the world’s largest northern multi-sport and cultural event. The Games are a celebration of athletic completion, culture, friendship and cooperation between northern contingents. Athletic competition features sports that enjoy worldwide popularity alongside traditional Arctic Sports and Dene games. The cultural component is a pillar of the Games, featuring visual arts, dance, ceremonies and galas with participants from across the circumpolar region.
Each hockey team is comprised of 17 players. Teams participate in a round-robin tournament to determine seeding for medal-round pairings. One gold ulu is awarded in each division. Teams that regularly participate in ice hockey include Alaska, Yukon, Alberta North, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Join host Kara Spady in a special episode of The Hockey Alberta Centre Ice Podcast as she chats with Kendra Jessie, diving into the world of hockey and exploring her unique journey and perspectives within the sport. Tune in to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day and gain insights into Kendra’s life and rich experiences on and off the ice. Don’t miss this captivating discussion on the 30th episode!
Image: Team Alberta Hockey Players at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships
The camp is taking place August 3-6, in Red Deer at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Male and female athletes born in 2006 – 2009, who are of Indigenous heritage (First Nations, Métis or Inuit) and registered with a Hockey Alberta or a Hockey Canada sanctioned minor hockey association are eligible to try out.
The camp costs $250 plus GST and includes a jersey, warm-up shirt and shorts, on-ice practices and games for each participant.
The Aboriginal Sport Circle established the NAHC in 2002 as the premiere competition for young Aboriginal hockey players in Canada. For the first time, the NAHC is taking place in Alberta in 2024 – May 6-12 in Grande Prairie.
The annual event provides a forum for elite U18 aged Indigenous male and female youth and attracts participation from First Nations, Métis and Inuit across the 13 provinces and territories. This annual event helps foster cultural unity and pride to celebrate Indigenous athletes and sport.
Deadline to register is Friday, July 14.
For any questions, please contact Mike Applegate, Regional Manager North, Hockey Development, at [email protected].
Hockey Alberta is celebrating Pride Season. Throughout the summer (June to September) Pride events are taking place across the country to celebrate the 2SLGBTQI+ community.
In 2014, Jeff McLean was working with a team from Calder Bateman Communications and the University of Alberta when the team developed a badge of support from the hockey world to the 2SLGBTQI+ community.
“We felt that there was a need to address the issue of homophobia in sports,” said McLean. “We looked at data and realized that there was a lot of homophobic language used in and around sports culture and it spiked during major sporting events.”
Being from Edmonton, it was a natural decision to start the movement in hockey. Using his connections to the NHL, McLean began researching team and locker room culture.
His findings sparked the idea, of a badge of support that would deliver a positive tone to say that everyone is welcome on the ice. With the help of Calder Bateman Communications, Pride Tape was created.
“If they could repeat logos or graphics on tape, we wondered if they could print colours, like the Pride flag, through the roll of tape,” said McLean. “That’s where we really connected with the NHL, we knew if we were going to do this, we needed their support. They got on board immediately.”
After seven years, McLean still has “pinch me” moments when he sees some of the biggest names in the game sporting Pride Tape, but the NHL has supported the movement since day one.
“The Edmonton Oilers debuted six different rolls as a prototype to show the idea at their skills competition,” said McLean. “As the players jumped on the ice with their sticks taped, it was such a flash of colour and I got goosebumps. That’s where it became a reality.”
Since, organizations like the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Seattle Kraken have partnered with Pride Tape to present events that promote equality and inclusion like the Pride Cup and Seattle Pride Classic.
Pride Tape has become a fixture of Pride celebrations across the NHL, CHL, grassroots levels and has become a multi-sport tape.
“In its simplest form, (Pride Tape) is an opportunity for an individual to fly their own flag and say, hockey is for everyone,” said McLean. “Everyone who has the bravery and courage to put the tape on their stick is saying ‘I believe in inclusion, I support the 2SLGBTQI+ community and this is important to me.’”
Sporting Pride Tape delivers a strong message without hearing any words.
"Pride Tape goes much more beyond a product, it’s a grassroots, global community initiative," said McLean. "I think that’s the biggest attribute of the tape on someone’s stick is it helps move the conversation along and make it bigger and stronger than what it needs to be."
Every day the founders of Pride Tape see a story. Some are positive and empowering, while others include bullying and harassment.
“Everybody’s story is different and everyone has their own reasons for using it (Pride Tape),” said McLean. “Usually they are pretty personal and pretty close to their heart, pretty close to their family and we see it on social media, actually sharing those stories and amplifying their experiences. It’s that communication that is essential.”
Today, Pride Tape is in 40 different countries, driving a grassroots, global movement of support, inclusion and sparking the conversation.
“We just make tape. The fans and supporters make it powerful,” said McLean. “We hear from young players to coaches, officials, etc., the universal support for the importance of this inclusion message in sports and society is huge.”
Jeff Mclean is also the co-author of the children’s book, Who’s Hockey. This season, the Hockey Alberta Foundation and Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation partnered to deliver the book to schools across the province.
Who’s Hockey is based on one of the NHL’s Declarations – acceptance. The story is about a girl who moves to a new town and wants to share her love of the game with everyone she meets, of all demographics.
Sadie Makokis was meant to be a hockey player. The fifth of eight children, she comes from a family of hockey players.
For the 18-year-old, the 2022-23 season proved to be a storybook ending to her minor hockey career. Not only did she commit to the University of New Hampshire to play Division I hockey, she represented Alberta at both the Canada Winter Games (CWG) and the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC).
“It’s amazing and surreal to say that I’ve been able to represent Alberta numerous times,” said Makokis. “It’s kind of cool to see how far I’ve come… I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates and coaches.”
Makokis first came on the scene five years ago when she played in the NAHC as a double under-age.
“As a rookie you have to earn your stripes and prove yourself a little bit more because people haven’t seen you play as much,” said Makokis. “You don’t have that experience that others may have had. Now I know what I need to do and how to prepare and play.”
Her confidence in her game didn’t happen overnight.
“Playing in short-term competition four times now at this level has made it a lot easier,” said Makokis. “I go into tryouts prepared and ready to go. I try to set that example for myself and for others, but overall, I just try to play my own game.”
Playing her own game is what Makokis does best, and it’s what solidified her spot on Team Alberta twice this season.
In December, Makokis was selected to Team Alberta U18 to compete at the 2023 CWG in Charlottetown, PEI. The team finished fifth overall. In May, Makokis brought home a bronze medal with Team Alberta Female from the 2023 NAHC in Winnipeg.
“The two are very different tournaments and styles,” said Makokis. “In PEI, it was super diverse and we were all there for hockey. At NAHC, we come from a common background and we are all there to play hockey as well as represent our people.”
A member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, the opportunity to represent her people is why Makokis continues to try out for NAHC each year.
“It’s really humbling to say that my NAHC teammates are all my friends now,” said Makokis. “I’ll have them forever because we share the same experiences, have the same backgrounds and where we come from.”
Saddle Lake is an hour and 45 minutes away from St. Albert, where Makokis now calls home. She’s aware that living in the city has provided her with more opportunities than other people from Saddle Lake – and she understands the responsibilities that accompany being part of a generation that is blazing a trail for Indigenous youth in Alberta.
“It’s cool to be able to create that path and have other Indigenous youth know that they can do this too,” said Makokis. “I’m very proud to be Cree, to be Black and White, and I never realized that I’ve had that impact (on the next generation) over my short life that I’ve had.”
It’s not uncommon for Makokis to receive a message of support from someone watching her story unfold.
“It’s really cool to see I’m able to inspire my younger cousins and the other families on the reserve,” said Makokis. “I get messages saying ‘we’re all rooting for you and we’re all supporting you’ and I know that I have my entire community as well as several other communities in Alberta behind me. That’s amazing.”
Makokis is honoured to represent the Indigenous community on this large of scale, but her message for the next generation is clear.
“Just go for it,” said Makokis. “It doesn’t matter where you played the year before - as long as you go into the tryouts and be you. Take a chance on yourself and trust yourself. You’ve been playing hockey a long time and know these skills, so just trust yourself that you’re able to do it. Just go for it.”
Congratulations to Krista Wilson and Tara Swanson on being named Alberta’s 2023 BFL Female Coaches of the Year by Hockey Canada. Through the BFL Female Coach of the Year, Hockey Canada’s mission is to recognize coaches who are leaders in hockey and leaders in life, both in community and high performance leagues.
2023 Alberta BFL Female Coach of the Year – Community
Wilson spent the 2022-23 season with the Airdrie U15 A Female Lightning. In total, she has 12 years of coaching experience, and holds her Development 1 certification. Wilson is always striving to improve her skillset and knowledge base to help her athletes be the best they can be on and off the ice.
As an advocate for mental health awareness, this season, Wilson held a Health Challenge for the players which provided challenges encouraging physical and mental wellness. She ensures her players are prepared and focused for hockey and prioritizes celebrating life outside of the game.
2023 Alberta BFL Female Coach of the Year – High Performance
Swanson is a veteran behind the bench who currently works with the North Central Impact of the U15 AA Alberta Female Hockey League. Her coaching philosophy emphasizes her players and their development. She works with each player individually and as a whole team to determine goals and expectations for the season. She makes it clear that improvement and success is not always measured by the score of the game.
Swanson leads by example. She creates an environment where players are comfortable to express themselves, ensures a team free of harassment, discrimination and bullying and is always the first off the bench to shake other coaches hands. She uses her experiences to help mentor young coaches in the association and gives back to the game at the provincial level. Her goal to make everyone around her better, makes her an excellent role model for the young adults with whom she works.
BFL Female Coach of the Year
Coaches from coast to coast were nominated for Hockey Canada’s BFL Female Coach of the Year award. A selection committee chose the provincial and territorial winners for each category based on fair play and sportsmanship, emphasis on emotional and physical well-being of players, and commitment to developing every player and dedication to the game on and off the ice.
Each provincial and territorial winner receives a $2,500 bursary. A national winner from each category will be announced in June.