What’s more patriotic than receiving your Canadian citizenship at a hockey game?
The Saskatoon Blades are set to host 20 newcomers for a special pre-game ceremony at Sunday’s game against the Swift Current Broncos.
The group will take the oath of citizenship with both teams and the crowd looking on.
“It should be a very touching moment and a great reminder of all we have in this nation,” said Steve Hogle, president of the Blades, at an announcement Tuesday afternoon.
He added the ceremony is believed to be the first of its kind in western Canada, and possibly the Canadian Hockey League.
It won’t be the first citizenship ceremony held at a hockey game, however. In September 2016, 100 new citizens, including Ottawa Senators legend Daniel Alfredsson, were sworn in at a World Cup of Hockey game in Toronto.
Newcomers excited for ceremony
Adesina Adeyeno, one of the participants at the ceremony, is looking forward to becoming a citizen at a hockey game.
“Hockey is Canada’s national (winter) sport,” he said. “I think it’s a great way to become a citizen, and I’m really excited.”
Adeyeno immigrated to Saskatoon from Nigeria five years ago, and will be joined by his wife in taking the citizenship oath.
“I’m grateful to Canada for giving us this opportunity,” he said.
Including family members who aren’t taking the oath, the ceremony will involve more than 50 people.
The event is all being co-ordinated through an already existing partnership between the Saskatoon Open Door Society, Ecologik and the Blades organizations.
Sunday’s game was already set to be the Blades’ “Hockey 101” night that welcomes newcomers to Canada to learn about the sport and enjoy the game free of charge.
“Many of the newcomers haven’t seen or participated in hockey before,” said Ali Abukar, executive director of the Open Door Society. “It’s a great way of welcoming and engaging newcomers to our community.”
More than 500 people are expected to take part in the event.
Before the game, they’ll receive a basic lesson on the rules and goals of hockey, try on equipment and get the chance to shoot a puck for the first time.
Once the game is underway, reminders of the rules will be provided to help newcomers keep track. There will also be features focused on educating all Blades fans.
“We’re going to demonstrate the value that newcomers bring to our community,” Hogle said.
After the game, participants will be invited to a private skate where many will be hitting the ice for the first time.
Hogle said they aren’t putting a cap on newcomers getting involved and hope nearly 1,000 will show up.
“Who knows how big it will get?” he said.
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) January 17, 2017