A transport truck filled with thousands of pieces of sporting gear left Edmonton Saturday — starting a more than 3,000-kilometre trek to the Northwest Territories.
“This is just the start,” explained Sport Central executive director Sheldon Oleksyn.
“It’s going to another terminal at Matco, then Matco Moving is taking it to Hay River, then at Hay River it gets on a barge at a ferry terminal, then it starts heading up the Mackenzie River and stops at a multitude of communities along the way.”
Roughly 4,500 pieces of equipment for a variety of sports like soccer, hockey and baseball will be distributed to roughly 1,400 kids and teens in Norman Wells, Fort MacPherson and Tuktoyaktuk.
“We’ve had an unprecedented amount of equipment that’s been given to us during the pandemic,” Oleksyn said.
“Manufacturers have been exceedingly generous too.”
Preparations to deliver this haul started months ago and included conversations with RCMP officers and recreation directors in each of the three communities.
One of the only ways to deliver to these remote areas, other than by plane, is by barge on the Mackenzie River and only two barge shipments happen per year.
The last one leaves Hay River on July 18. The equipment won’t arrive in Tuktoyaktuk until Aug. 5 at the earliest.
“There’s a lot of kids up there, a lot of families up there, but not a whole bunch of things like hockey equipment — affordable hockey equipment — affordable sports equipment,” volunteer Duncan Galloway said.
Sport Central has been at the helm of projects like this for close to two decades, helping dozens of communities across Alberta and further north.
“When a child is introduced into sport, it’s not something they have to stop, because the equipment for it they either outgrow or the equipment isn’t available,” Oleksyn said.
“We really take the long-term view for these programs.”