Hockey used to ‘Canadianize’ new immigrants and help grow the sport

Hijabs and hockey sticks came together for a unique fundraiser hoping to raise money to purchase an outdoor hockey rink for a community need.

The rink would be located at Thorncliffe Park and service the large immigrant population in the area.

“There’s no place to play hockey. Most of these kids are new Canadians. They’ve been in this country for four or five years. They’re more likely to play cricket than hockey,” said Hafeez Amarshi, one of the organizer of Thursday night’s event.

There’s an appetite for hockey within this new, largely untapped, market according to Dave Croutch, Director of the North York Hockey League.

He says introducing the sport to new immigrants is an effective way to build community and integrate them more seamlessly into North American life.

“If Billy and Johnny are talking about hockey in the playground at school, [some students] previously were not part of that conversation. But now that they’re playing the game, they are actually part of the conversation,” said Croutch.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment donated hockey equipment to the effort. They acknowledged introducing hockey to new immigrants is a good way to grow the sport and add diversity to the game.
Story continues below advertisement

“You look at Nazem Kadri for the Toronto Maple Leafs and his ethnicity. It’s a great thing for the diversity of Toronto,” says Nilesh Chauhan, who’s with the MLSE Foundation.

“The most I enjoy about hockey is that now if we get our own rink, we can play as much as we want. Because before it cost a lot of money and we didn’t get enough ice time,” says Ayaan, a young boy who was donning a Maple Leafs jersey during the fundraiser.

Organizers need to raise $30,000; donations can be made here.

Sponsored content