Kingston Police officer raising funds for First Nation girls’ hockey team

With support from Kingston Police and the Kingston Police Association an officer and his wife are attempting to raise funds to support a Northern Ontario First Nation girls’ hockey team as they travel all the way to the Ottawa area to compete in a local tournament.

Constable Steve Koopman and his wife, Katie Koopman, were moved by a documentary highlighting the challenges faced by the ‘Rez Girls 64’ Wolves Peewee hockey team from Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope, which is a remote, fly-in reserve in Northern Ontario. The team and their coaching staff struggled to find ice time, obtain equipment and funding to travel to a tournament in Thunder Bay but were ultimately successful. Their story can be found on CBC Radio’s ‘The Doc Project’ here: https://goo.gl/C2LQKZ

However, their next task was to raise funds to fly all the way to Ottawa, confirm accommodation, and participate in the 35th Kanata Girls Hockey Association House League Tournament occurring March 23-25, 2018. Thankfully, and only until recently, the team once again received the funding needed to participate.

Steve Koopman states, “After hearing coverage of the Rez Girls’ journey, and thoroughly moved by the determination of the young women leading this team to have their players experience what we all want for our children, we reached out to offer assistance relating to our photography background and document their time in Ottawa and at the tournament. The team accepted and we are honoured to attend. We are donating our time, photography experience, and covering all our own personal costs during the long weekend. We have separately fundraised enough to order metallic sports prints for each of the girls, obtained gift certificates and donations to assist with some visiting costs, and found space to have a get-together party for them one evening in Ottawa.

“However, we felt there was one last thing that could put this over the top. This is where we are asking the local Kingston community, and hopefully even further abroad, to help raise funds to send these girls to an event many of us in Southern Ontario take for granted, namely an NHL hockey game, which we believe to be a first for all of them. Specifically, when they arrive in Ottawa and just prior to the girls’ own tournament commencing, the Ottawa Senators will be playing against the Edmonton Oilers on March 22. We have reached out to the Senators’ group booking office and they have been kind enough to reserve 40 tickets for the girls, coaching staff and parent chaperones while we attempt to raise $3,000 in funds. We want to thank and acknowledge the Kingston Police Association for a generous donation to get the momentum rolling, and also the Kingston Police administration for supporting this initiative. If we are fortunate enough to exceed our goal then any additional funds will go to assist the team’s next tournament.

“We believe many Canadians acknowledge the disparity in living conditions, opportunities, and experiences found between some communities and that of First Nation reserves, especially those in more remote northern regions. This story of a small but tenacious group has inspired us to make their journey and stay in Ottawa a truly memorable one. We want to thank in advance all of those who are so generous to participate in this endeavour to ensure these wonderful and resilient young girls have the opportunity of a lifetime to see a professional hockey game in our nation’s capital and to inspire them forward in their passion for sport, camaraderie, independence, and optimism.”

For those wishing to donate the link to the GoFundMe page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/rezgirls64sensgame

Questions and those seeking additional information can contact Cst. Steve Koopman via email at skoopman@kingstonpolice.ca.