Syrian children discover hockey

Week after week a hockey program in Gloucester, Ottawa grows, as Syrian children get excited about learning to play. Watch as the program director finds ways to attract new players every week, and children learn to skate together.

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Transcript: Syrian children discover hockey

Video length: 3:21 minutes

Upbeat music plays.

A group of young hockey players suit up and participate in an on-ice practice.

Text displays: “Ottawa”.

A coach stands in front of one of the nets and instructs his players.

Michel Breau (Coach, Gloucester Centre Minor Hockey Association): Everybody against the coaches!

A male narrator speaks.

Narrator: Coach Michel Breau encourages kids in the Gloucester Centre Minor Hockey Association’s hockey initiation program. He has been coaching new players for a few weeks now.

Michel Breau: Catch up, William!

One player helps another player up who had fallen.

Another player smiles.

Narrator: Most of the little ones in red and purple are young Syrian refugees. And the big smiles on their faces tell you how much fun they’re having.

A man speaks from the lobby of a hockey arena.

Text displays: “ Allan Martel – Volunteer, Former President, Ottawa East Minor Hockey Association”.

Allan Martel: They’re great kids. They’re wonderful kids. They just light up like Christmas trees. When you give them an opportunity to do things like this, they… well, kids are kids, regardless of where they come from, right?

The coach instructs his players during an on ice practice.

Michel Breau: Hurry up guys!

A woman takes a video of the practice with her smartphone.

A diverse group of people congregate in the arena lobby.

Narrator: The young Syrians’ enthusiasm is evident, and others are impatiently waiting for their turn, as Chris McArthur, one of the volunteers behind the initiative, explains.

A man speaks from the lobby of a hockey arena. Footage of the young players practicing appears intermittently as he speaks.

Text displays: “Chris Mcarthur – Director, Initiation Program, Gloucester Centre Minor Hockey Association”.

Chris Mcarthur: All of our participants come from two buildings within our jurisdiction that are right next to each other, and every time I go to those buildings I have more kids that come out and say, “I want to play.” We actually started with only 10 participants, and I had two kids that came every time and said, “Mr. Chris, can I play too now?” And that’s why you keep trying to expand.

A young hockey team participates in an on ice practice.

Narrator: The community works hard to make sure these kids get to learn their adopted country’s national winter sport.

A man speaks from the lobby of a hockey arena. Footage of the young players and some adults loading their vehicles appears intermittently as he speaks.

Chris Mcarthur: It starts with… once a week I do what we call “Cougar Uber,” where I put the word out that I need this many seats in cars and vehicles to be picked up at this address at 7:00 in the morning, and I have yet to have not enough seats.

On top of that, I have community support from the local Ford dealership and rent-a-cars who have provided us with two large vehicles so we can capacitate a minimum of half the participants and their gear – because not all cars are designed to hold four or five hockey bags – at no cost.

A coach instructs his players at an on ice practice.

Michel Breau: Okay, Nihan and Mohammed, go!

Narrator: These children will soon be able to join real teams, which should make it easier for them to integrate into Canadian society. In addition, the entire hockey community wins by reaching these kids.

A man speaks from the lobby of a hockey arena. Footage of the young players practicing and some parents recording video of the practice appears intermittently as he speaks.

Text displays: “Tim Nellis – President, Gloucester Centre Minor Hockey Association”.

Tim Nellis: First, we need players. We were talking about how we can get everyone interested in playing hockey. New Canadians who come here, what better way to adopt their new country—play our national sport. But not just that. It helps them integrate, but it also helps our association grow as well to maintain interest in hockey.

A young player falls down on the ice.

Michel Breau: (To young player). Can you stand up? Get on your skates?

A man speaks from the lobby of a hockey arena as the practice continues in the background.

Text displays: “Michel Breau – Coach, Gloucester Centre Minor Hockey Association”.

Michel Breau: Hockey has one language, so teaching the kids how to skate is no different.

A group of young hockey players participate in an on ice practice.

Narrator: Everyone agrees that the experience is more than positive. And with a little luck, it may repeat itself elsewhere.

A man speaks from the lobby of a hockey arena. Footage of the young players practicing appears intermittently as he speaks.

Text displays: “Ruggles Pritchard – Initiation Coordinator, Hockey Eastern Ontario”.

Ruggles Pritchard: Hockey Canada’s mandate is to make sure that we’re as inclusive as we can be – that we’re wanting to encourage all kids, guys and girls, to play the game. And the idea is that they start with the very best fundamentals imaginable and hopefully they grow to love the game and they become players long into their sixties like I am.

A coach addresses his players in a huddle on the ice.

Michel Breau: One, two, three, have fun!

Fade to black.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada corporate signature and the copyright message “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2017” are displayed followed by the Canada wordmark.

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