Toronto teens sending 70 bags of used hockey equipment to Fort Albany
Two grade eight students from Toronto have collected about 70 bags of used hockey equipment to send to Indigenous kids in northern Ontario -- an initiative that has garnered attention from a former Maple Leafs goalie.
Ethan Kowatsch, 13, started collecting used equipment for kids in Fort Albany three years ago. He said the “equipment drive” was inspired by Carey Price, a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens.
“I was watching Carey Price when he was receiving an award and he was talking about how it’s hard to get equipment up to his community and how it’s a struggle playing hockey,” Kowatsch recalled.
“When we started, we only collected about 15 bags at most. And last year I did it again and I collected about 22 bags. And then this year we have almost 70 bags and a bunch of skates and sticks and stuff.”
Kowatsch was able to collect the 70 bags with the help of 13-year-old Daniel Berton, who heard about the initiative and offered to help. The two were strangers until their parents helped connect them.
“I heard Ethan’s story and how he wanted to give back to the community,” Berton said. “I know hockey equipment like this can be very expensive and I wanted to give back.”
According to Berton’s father, a hockey stick can cost a minimum of $150 and a set of pads can be anywhere between $500 and $1,000.
“They grow and they grow pretty quickly,” Roberto Berton said. “Being a 13-year-old boy, he’s had a four inch growth spurt in a span of 13 months.”
The teens have been posting flyers around their schools and asking their hockey teammates to donate old equipment. Both Kowatsch and Berton are goalies on their teams.
In order to get the equipment to Fort Albany, the teens will be helped by another player they admire -- former Maple Leafs goalie Paul Harrison.
The equipment will either have to be shipped across an ice road or flown into the community.
Harrison has offered to help, and delivery plans are being ironed out.
“It’s very tough for them to play hockey because getting equipment up there is really hard,” Kowatsch said. “It’s really hard just to get stuff up there in general. The only way to access it is through an ice road in the winter.”
Kowatsch said that he has heard from the community at Fort Albany and they are “really thankful.”
“They’ve started a little tournament up there now. They want me to come up there and meet some of the kids and watch the tournament. I want to really do it.”
-With files from CTV News Toronto's Michelle Dube