Colleen Fidler chuckles as she reminisces about a frigid February day in
2014 when a north Edmonton community held a grand reopening of an outdoor
“I think Eberle was there. I’m not much of a hockey person,” she says with
Yes, Jordan Eberle, then a member of the Edmonton Oilers, was there for the
opening of the Beacon Heights community rink, as was Taylor Hall, and
though Fidler might not have the hockey knowledge some hockey-mad
Edmontonians possess, she has seen the impact that a refurbishment of two
outdoor rinks has had on the community.
Fidler is executive director of the Beverly Towne Community Development
Society and was a key player in having proceeds from the 2010 Hockey Canada
Foundation Gala & Golf help support the Beverly Heights and Beacon
Heights community rinks.
The old rink in Beacon Heights was demolished after news came of gala
proceeds being used for a rink refurbishment. Fidler says the 50-year-old
rink had lights that didn’t do much to help kids and adults enjoy the rink
after the sun set, wooden boards that had long past their best-before dates
and player benches that also needed replacing.
The 2010 HCF Gala & Golf was held in Edmonton to help celebrate the
golden moments for Canada’s men’s and women’s teams at the 2010 Olympics in
Vancouver while, at the same time, raising money for the growth of the game
and the ever-important goal of leaving legacies in communities.
The event raised $630,000, with $400,000 allocated to one of two rinks at
The Meadows, a state-of-the-art community recreation facility. In addition,
$230,000 went to the rink refurbishment program of two inner-city outdoor
rinks, with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation also contributing
Fidler, who continues to work with the five neighborhoods that make up the
Beverly community, says the refurbishments have directly impacted hundreds
of residents, many of whom would not have had the chance to play hockey
were it not for the proceeds from the gala.
“The community includes a lot of newcomer families, a significant number of
single-parent families and many who are living below the poverty line. For
many of these families, there really is no chance for their kids to play
hockey,” she says, noting that community members have worked together to
have skates and sticks and other equipment donated for families who can’t
afford them. “People still talk about how amazing the rinks are.
“It’s amazing to see how something like a rink can have such an impact on
the community. It has really boosted community pride.”
That is music to the ears of Natalie Minckler who, as executive director of
the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, works day in and day out to help
grow the game in her community. Minckler says the Oilers foundation, Hockey
Canada and Hockey Alberta have a strong partnership that led to the
successful 2010 event and has led to Edmonton playing host once again in
Proceeds from the gala will support grassroots initiatives through the
Oilers Learn to Play program and Hockey Alberta’s Every Kid Every Community
Oilers Learn to Play is designed to introduce young players to the game of
hockey and helps break down common entry barriers by providing participants
with new hockey equipment and on-ice instruction from Oilers alumni and
local hockey coaches. The Every Kid Every Community program started in 2011
and has similar objectives of ensuring any child with an interest in hockey
has the chance to play.
Minckler hopes Edmonton can build off the success in 2010.
“In 2010, it was a huge event for Edmonton, Edmontonians, and the entire
community celebrated with Hockey Canada and the teams that came,” she says.
“It was a wonderful celebration to bring the entire community together. So
we’re looking forward to doing that again at Rogers Place. We’re looking
forward to welcoming people to our community. When a community is fortunate
to host these events, it helps to bring us together, while generating some
important dollars to invest into that community.”
Minckler is well aware of the power that the game of hockey holds for
Canadians and sees the community rinks and The Meadows as facilities that
bring together Edmontonians from all walks of life.
“With our Oilers and Oil Kings, there is so much excitement around the
teams. Culturally, when you move to Edmonton, you realize soon that hockey
is a religion. It’s something that people just congregate to and want to
feel a part of,” she says. “Edmonton is very much a melting pot of
different cultures and we have an opportunity to introduce this great game
to people. It’s part of what our foundation does; introducing the game to
people that don’t have the opportunity or even the chance to go skating.”