At Frontier Mosakahiken School in Moose Lake, Man., Jennelle Manko has lots
of ideas for how she can grow her Hockey Canada Skills Academy program.
One way is by providing more activities options for students, and thanks to
a grant from the Hockey Canada Foundation, her school now has access to new
“I was really excited to have more options and more choices for the kids,”
says Manko, who teaches Grade 3 and the Skills Academy program for Grade 9
to Grade 12. “We have weightlifting as an option, and then we have
[floorball] now as an option, and we also had the rink and going outside to
do outdoor hockey.”
Skills Academy programs were selected by the Hockey Canada Foundation to
receive the grant, with the goal of eliminating barriers to play and
maximizing off-ice skill development.
“We know that hockey is not always accessible to everyone,” says Hockey
Canada Foundation philanthropy manager Alexandra Wise. “By providing this
grant that can be used in schools where we know the kids are, they’ll have
the chance to get experience playing hockey in a safe way and in an
For Manko, her school is in a small community home to the Mosakahiken Cree
Nation. Since receiving the grant, she has noticed there has been an
increased excitement about hockey in her school community.
“I think I’m going to have a lot more interest [in the Skills Academy
program] and a lot more students wanting to be at school,” she says.
Timothy Biggins works in student services at Chief Napew Memorial School,
located on Big Island Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. When he found out
his school was selected for the Hockey Canada Foundation grant, he was
“It provided a really good opportunity for the students for dryland
training, especially,” he says. “We are able to utilize our multipurpose
court that’s outside of the building on a regular basis.”
Currently, the Skills Academy program is only open to U9 players at Chief
Napew Memorial School. However, Biggins hopes this grant will be a
stepping-stone to gathering more interest and participants in the program.
“On a daily basis I have other kids in different grades asking me to be
involved. So, I think it is a launching point,” he says. “With this grant
and that support that was given and the accessibility to that equipment, we
are able to share it with other groups, not just the U9s, and it is
developing more of a keen interest in the sport.”
Biggins’ goal of fostering a sense of community through hockey is not
limited to the walls of his school. He hopes that the entire community will
embrace the sport and that the community will have a team of its own one
day. One of the first steps in that goal is operating and growing the
Hockey Canada Skills Academy.
After seeing his three sons grow up playing hockey, he wants to help get as
many kids as he can get involved to also feel supported by the hockey
community once the entry barriers are eliminated.
“I’ve just noticed that whenever we have athletes that come from the
community and are involved in our local hockey community, that those
students walk in the school with a little more sense of confidence, and I
love it. I love seeing it,” he says. “I want it to go throughout all the
grades so that when they are finished their academics in the [kindergarten
to Grade 12] system that they feel confidence and they can move forward.”