Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavik November 13, 2017 - 11:30 am

Makivik Corp. announces plan for revamped Nunavik hockey program

Organization cuts ties with long-time coach Joé Juneau

Coach Joé Juneau gives players on the Nunavik Nordiks' Pee Wee team a pep talk during a 2011 game. (FILE PHOTO)
Coach Joé Juneau gives players on the Nunavik Nordiks' Pee Wee team a pep talk during a 2011 game. (FILE PHOTO)

Makivik Corp. says a new regional minor hockey program in the works aims to give ice time to more Inuit youth.

Nunavik’s Inuit birthright organization has announced plans for a revamped version of the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program, or NYHDP, which it hopes to re-launch in the fall of 2018.

Makivik president Jobie Tukkiapik described the forthcoming program as “made in Nunavik, by Inuit, for Inuit.”

Makivik helps oversee Nunavik’s $300-million crime prevention fund, Ungaluk, which for years has financed the NYHDP and its select program with about $2.2 million a year.

The program was first launched in 2006, headed up by former National Hockey League player Joé Juneau.

But a committee led by Makivik Corp. and the Kativik Regional Government committee, which oversees funding, decided last winter to cut about $900,000 from the NYHDP’s annual budget—the portion of the budget that funded the program’s select hockey teams, which participate in annual tournaments outside the region.

The decision was based on an audit Makivik commissioned on the NYDHP, which found that the select hockey program did not meet Ungaluk’s crime prevention and community building requirements.

And this week, Makivik said it has now cut ties with Juneau, who had coached NYHDP players for over a decade. The former NHLer is currently working on a school-based youth hockey development program in the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach.

“We recognize [Juneau] for what he did, which was reviving the interest in hockey in the region,” Tukkiapik said. “And now we have to build on that.”

To do that, the Nunavik Minor Hockey Orientation Committee—made up of regional organizations, community members, hockey players and coaches—is working on a list of recommendations it plans to submit to Makivik this winter.

Over the 2017-18 season, Makivik plans to hire a new regional hockey coordinator and continue to offer hockey clinics for players led by NYHDP’s community-based trainers.

What’s clear for now is that the new program will increase the participation of young hockey players in each of Nunavik’s communities, Tukkiapik said.

Tukkiapik said he’s heard too many parents in Kuujjuaq complain that only the most talented players got ice time under the former version of the program.

“It was not benefitting enough Inuit youth,” he said.

What’s less clear is whether the program will opt to take part in southern hockey tournaments, if participation will rely on school attendance (as the previous program did) or if a revamped program will even keep the same name.

As the regional hockey committee decides how to move forward, Makivik said it will be considering parent involvement, regional consensus and the integration of Inuit culture and language as important criteria.

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