Local hockey tournament to help homeless in Calgary

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WATCH: Hockey Helps the Homeless has been raising awareness and money for local homeless support agencies in Calgary for more than a decade. Funds from the one-day tournament have helped fund programs like the one that helped Richards Antoine find a new home and sense of community he had been missing since moving from Haiti as a teen. Deb Matejicka reports – Oct 29, 2019

After taking part in the Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament for a few years, Micheal Tseng was inspired to do more than just be a participant.

“I just wanted to educate myself more on the homelessness cause and be able to make a difference in the community,” said Tseng, who has become a chair for the annual fundraising tournament.

“It allows amateur athletes to play alongside some of the NHL pros that they watched growing up,” he said.

“[They are] working towards the common goal [and] that’s to raise money and awareness for homelessness.”

The tournament that runs in every major city across the country has played out here in Calgary for the past 12 years.

READ MORE: Hockey Helps the Homeless raises $400K for Montreal organizations

“To date, we’ve raised over $1.4 million… and all that money raised here in Calgary, stays locally here, in Calgary. It all goes back to our four outreach partners that we work with,” Tseng said.

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Those benefiting from the one-day tournament this year include the YWCA of Calgary, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta, Inn from the Cold and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary (BGCC).

Richards Antoine grew up in Haiti and moved to Canada when he was 17.

Soon after becoming an adult, his mother kicked him out of her house.

“My whole life has been tough,” Antoine said as he discussed the physical abuse he suffered as a child in Haiti.

He also spoke of the challenges he faced moving to Canada as a young person, being in a new country with relatively few skills.

He turned to the BGCC for help.

“They find me a place and now I live alone. I’m independent and happy about it,” Antoine said of the help he received from the outreach team at the BGCC.

It was through the BGCC Unity Project that Antoine found the support and community he craved and needed.

“They helped me to have a future and so I’m really grateful about it,” he said. “They supported me.”

Kim Ledene is the director of Youth Housing and Shelter at the BGCC and says young adults living on the streets are at an increased risk of victimization.

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“There has been an increase of young people who are over the age of 18, and so they’re accessing adult shelters,” Ledene said. “So we have [a] team to work with those young people.”

Ledene adds that events like Hockey Helps the Homeless help show those vulnerable young adults that they are supported.

“I think it just sends a message to the young people that the community does care about them, and we do want them to have a safe place to live,” she said.

“One of the best things — year after year — by being a part of this tournament, is that I get to see Calgarians join together and make a positive impact here in the community,” Tseng added.

The Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament takes place on Friday, Nov. 1 at the Winsport arenas and is free to attend.