The Edmonton Oilers longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in hockey was on full display throughout February, also known as Hockey is for Everyone month.
Hockey is for Everyone was all about celebrating the people who play or watch hockey, including fans of every race, colour, religion, national origin, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and ability.
In addition to Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira representing the club as the team’s Hockey is for Everyone Ambassador, Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse also led by example, joining the Hockey is for Everyone movement by inviting 16 youth participating in the Right To Play program from Alexander First Nation to attend the Oilers Skills Competition presented by Rogers on February 3. The children were surprised with learning how to skate on the Downtown Community Rink, watching their favourite Oilers during the Skills Competition and meeting Nurse to cap off the afternoon.
Nurse, a Right To Play Athlete Ambassador since 2016, helps inspire kids in the program by sharing his message about what play has done for him, how he’s overcome obstacles and how children in the program can also do the same and achieve great things in sport and, more importantly in life.
Nurse heightened his commitment to Hockey is for Everyone, pledging to donate $10/minute played during every game (home and away) in February to Right To Play’s Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program. After logging 318.09 minutes in ice time, paired with the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation’s (EOCF) commitment to match at 50 per cent, Right To Play was gifted a generous $6,150 CAD donation from the Oilers defenceman.
Active in 88 First Nations communities across Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, the Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program through Right To Play uses sport and play as tools to empower indigenous youth as leaders in their communities.
“Darnell is an exceptional role model for the children in our program. He leads by example with his work ethic and determination on the ice and at the same time commits to making a difference in children’s lives off the ice,” said Right to Play Director of Community Engagement Scott Sandison. “We can’t thank Darnell enough for making a donation to Right To Play for every minute he has played in February. We are honoured to have him as an Athlete Ambassador and his contribution to the kids in our programs will make a big impact.”