Welcome to the world of hockey

Seven Oaks Arena was buzzing as Filipino and South Asian kids – including Nathan, Jacob and Clara strapped on their skates for the First Shift hockey program. Sponsored by Bauer Hockey, Winnipeg Jets and APNA Hockey, First Shift is a program crafted to make the initial steps into the world of hockey as smooth, enjoyable, and exciting as possible. Over the course of the 6-week introduction to hockey, these young stars are not just mastering the puck but also building friendships and memories. First Shift proves: hockey’s not just a game, it’s a global party!

First Shift: Growing Hockey with Diversity and Inclusion

In the 2022-23 Report to the Community, the Winnipeg Jets highlighted a promising initiative. Responding to the need for inclusive hockey development programs, especially for the Filipino, South Asian, and broader new immigrant communities, the ‘hockey for all centre’ launched the First Shift initiative. Powering this initiative is the Jets Hockey Development (JHD), in partnership with Scotiabank, Bauer and APNA Hockey – all sharing a mutual goal: erasing barriers and making hockey accessible for all of Canada’s youth, especially those freshly forging their Canadian identities.

One of the key attractions of this program? Free lessons coupled with complimentary equipment. This ensures that financial constraints don’t deter passionate young players from pursuing their newfound love for the game even after the program ends. This past spring, JHD took a bold leap forward with a six-week free program and several one-week summer camps. These sessions, which combined both on and off-ice training, witnessed over 130 Filipino and South Asian minor hockey players sweating it out, learning, and fostering relationships. A noteworthy aim behind these sessions was to identify and groom participants for coaching and mentoring roles, reinforcing the support structure of the First Shift program.

In a fitting tribute to the diversity this program, during the Winnipeg Jets pre-season FanFest at Scotiabank hockey for all, Keewatin Prairie School’s elementary Filipino Heritage program students performed two cultural performances on the main stage.

Finally, mark your calendars! January 13, 2024, is Filipino Heritage Night as the Winnipeg Jets take on the Philadelphia Flyers. Go Jets Go!

Photos by Ron Cantiveros | Filipino Journal

Elementary students from the Keewatin Prairie School Filipino Heritage program.