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Junior hockey: KIJHL seeking financial aid from federal and provincial governments

Junior Hockey: KIJHL looking for financial aid from federal and provincial governments

The B.C. Hockey League is no longer the only junior hockey league in the province looking for financial assistance due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This week, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced that it will be seeking aid from provincial and federal governments.

On Thursday, KIJHL commissioner Jeff Dubois told Global News that the league has been impacted in a number of areas, including playoff revenue, because of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Kelowna Chiefs dedicate season to Grant Sheridan
Kelowna Chiefs dedicate season to Grant Sheridan

The KIJHL has 20 teams, including four in the Okanagan.

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“Kelowna, Summerland,  Osoyoos and the North Okangan out of Armstrong,” Dubois said.

Each team’s prognosis varies depending on ownership, but in Armstrong, home of the North Okanagan Knights, the situation is serious.

“If we don’t get help from the provincial government, the North Okangan Knights may not be able to start the year off,” said team owner Dean Keller.

Kelowna Chiefs class of KIJHL
Kelowna Chiefs class of KIJHL

In Kelowna, where the Chiefs play out of Rutland Arena, it’s the same story.

“Financially, it has hit us very hard,” Chiefs owner Jason Tansem said of the pandemic.

Still, Tansem says he’s on the fence about asking for money right now.

“Where is the money best spent?” Tansem wondered. “Is it with us, is it with some other community group?”

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Chiefs vent Steam
Chiefs vent Steam

“That’s what I don’t know,” Tansem admitted.

Like the BCHL, the KIJHL doesn’t want to be tone-deaf in a time of crisis

“What we are trying to do is simply get out in front of this to say hey under the current conditions if the season were to start in September we don’t know if we would be able to operate in a lot of our communities,” Dubois said.

Global News requested an interview with Lisa Baere, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, which is also responsible for sport and multiculturalism.

The minister declined an interview, but staff provided Global News with a statement, which said they are working with organizations to let them know about federal and provincial support that is available.

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