The Under-13 ‘A’ George Bell Titans are set to visit Whitefish River First Nation from February 9-11 in the second leg of the home-and-home exchange program.
In its second season, the exchange program, which featured the first leg in Toronto on October 27-29, strives to provide opportunities to GTHL and First Nations players, parents, and other participants to develop relationships, fellowship, and a cultural understanding through a shared passion for the game of hockey. For younger recreational-level players and players who have not previously played hockey, the exchange aims to provide introductory skill development opportunities (both on and off the ice) to encourage further participation in the game of hockey, while fostering new learning experiences and relationships.
The second leg will introduce the U13 ‘A’ George Bell Titans to a new culture, learning about new experiences while trying different foods and activities. The players will have the opportunity to participate in an on-ice session with the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s (NOJHL) Espanola Paper Kings, as well as the chance to attend a Paper Kings’ game later that evening. The Titans and Whitefish River First Nation participants will also together participate in team building, language sessions, as well as a lunch outdoors with a bonfire, skating, ice fishing, tobogganing, snow shoeing, and more.
The first leg in October 2023 saw Whitefish River First Nation youth aged nine through to 13 years old of various skill levels visit Toronto. The weekend included on-ice sessions, a visit to MLSE LaunchPad and the University of Toronto, as well as taking in a University of Toronto Varsity Blues hockey game. Click here to view the complete gallery from the first leg.
The GTHL and Whitefish River First Nation exchange program first began in 2022-23, with youth from Whitefish River visiting Toronto in November 2022. With the U11 Select team from the Scarborough Hockey Association, the participants enjoyed a weekend of on-ice sessions, watching a Toronto Maple Leafs practice live, a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, with added educational sessions on fitness and nutrition.
In February 2023, the visit to Toronto was followed up with the second leg of the exchange in Whitefish River. On the coldest weekend of the year, the participants were treated to on-ice sessions led by the 3Nolans – former NHL Coach of the Year Ted Nolan, and sons, retired NHL players, Brandon and Jordan Nolan – including on an outdoor rink with snowfall as the backdrop. The weekend also included sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and an opportunity to experience a Pow wow, provided by a gracious invitation from the community.
About Whitefish River First Nation
A community of approximately 1,200 citizens of the Anishinabek Nation located on the shores of Georgian Bay and the North Shore Channel, gatekeepers to Manitoulin Island, Ontario. The main village of Birch Island has approximately 440 members. Whitefish River First Nation is a progressive and active community that encourages, supports, and promotes local development, education, community wellness, and economic development as keys to their success.
About the Greater Toronto Hockey League
Founded in 1911, the GTHL is a non-profit organization and the largest minor hockey league in the world. The GTHL registers more than 40,000 annual participants in Markham, Mississauga, Toronto, and Vaughan. The purpose of the GTHL is to govern organized hockey for youth within its jurisdiction, and to foster participation that reflects the cultural demographic of the League’s territory while promoting an environment that is welcoming and inclusive for all participants.
- Steve Whitaker (Principal, Shawanosowe School, Whitefish River First Nation)
- Stephen Nahwegahbow (Education Manager, Whitefish River First Nation)
- Stephanie Hyde (Manager, Hockey Development and Community Outreach, GTHL)
- Michael Purdy (Director, GTHL)
- John Bell (General Manager, George Bell Hockey Association)
- Anver Emon (Co-Manager, U13 ‘A’ George Bell team)
For more information, please contact:
Stephanie Coratti | Senior Manager, Communications & Marketing