For the past 10 years Kraft Hockeyville has contributed more than $2 million to 53 communities across the country through its annual competition.
Sponsored by Kraft Canada Inc., NHL Enterprises Canada and the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the competition was created to identify the community that best exemplifies Canada passion for hockey.
For one grieving mother, the competition provides a chance, however small, to ensure a lasting memory of two young boys whose lives ended much too soon.
On November 6, 2015 a motor vehicle accident just outside of Port Elgin claimed the lives of two teens, Colby Callender and Chad Alder. Their friend Jason Bourque sustained critical injuries in the crash and remains in hospital.
Tracy Nantel, mother of Colby, lives each day coping with the loss of her son, trying to find even a small glimmer of good in such a horrible tragedy and always looking to discover a way to keep his memory alive.
“I looked online one day and saw this site about the Kraft Hockeyville competition and I just decided to submit our little village. I don’t know anything about hashtags or Twitter, but people started sharing it on Facebook and I started getting comments from people supporting it, so that’s where it is now,” Nantel said Monday.
In her submission she wrote about how a new outdoor rink built in memory of the boys would keep their memory alive.
“It wouldn’t matter if you were from the area or out of town; if you skated at the rink you would know the names of the boys who were loved and lost. They would continue to be talked about because you had a relaxing skate or that you watched a thrown-together game of hockey at an outdoor rink built in memory of two boys taken way too soon. As a community, people are beginning to heal. As a mom…healing will take a lifetime,” her submission continued.
And it was accepted as an entrant to the competition.
But Nantel admits that, as far as the competition goes, she’s not sure what to do now.
“It’s a big thing, I know, but I think it’s worth doing. There are lots of kids in this community – I have three other little ones too - who spend a lot of time at our little rink – adults too. I’ve had messages from people I don’t even know who encourage me to get others to help with this, that it’s such a good initiative,” she said.
She said she believes it is the right thing to do. Her son’s 19th birthday would have been on February 7.
“That’s the last day for nominations to the contest, Colby’s birthday. That was significant for me,” she said.
Nantel admitted that a grand prize win might be a lofty goal, but noted that other prizes in the contest could help a small village keep its community rink.
“There’s eight $25,000 prizes…I don’t know how much it would cost to build a rink but even $10,000 would go a long way for a small community rink,” she said.
Nantel noted that she would certainly appreciate some help in moving the initiative along.
“I saw the site for the competition and submitted the nomination and really, I thought that’s all there was to it; it would be great if others could have input in it too,” she said.
For a community struggling to come to terms with the loss of two of its youths, the Kraft Hockeyville competition is a chance to focus on the future. Those interested in supporting Port Elgin’s nomination can contact Nantel through her Facebook site.