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Right To Play Teams With Oilers Foundation On Gender Equity Program For Indigenous Youth

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In the spirit of play-based learning, Right To Play, Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, and Oilers Hockey Engagement Department teamed up this spring to develop programming for Indigenous children and youth in Alberta. Together, they created a ball hockey program with support from the NHL and a current program called Breaking the Ice. Through this program, Right to Play will strive to teach gender equity for boys and girls in Indigenous communities.

In April 2022, nine youth workers from five partner communities in Alberta gathered for a Right To Play-led training opportunity at Rogers Place, the Oilers home arena. Over the course of four days, Right To Play’s program team helped the group develop a ball hockey program tailored to the needs of children and youth in the partner communities. This training included lessons on the creation of a safe learning environment and effective summer programming content.

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Oilers Alumni Ian Herbers (current Head Coach, University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team) along with Dallas Ansell (Assistant Coach, University of Alberta Golden Bears) shared their hockey expertise with the nine youth workers. Through exercises and activities, the two coaches were crucial in instructing the youth workers on how program staff can create engaging learning opportunities for participants through the game of hockey.

Breaking the Ice will aim to provide Indigenous youth with a safe, inclusive environment where they can learn from each other, build skills, and have fun. Over the course of 12 sessions led by the youth workers, Indigenous youth will learn the value of gender equity, including barriers to participation that girls face and how boys can be better allies, all while staying active and healthy by playing ball hockey together.

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Right To Play is committed to creating healthy environments where all children can thrive. Engaging Indigenous youth through sports is an amazing way to help them build the skills and confidence they can use to promote their own well-being and that of their peers. We are so grateful to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation for their commitment to supporting gender equity and play-based learning.