EDMONTON – A local hockey team is sharing Canada’s favourite pastime with a family from Syria.
Mansour Mansour, his wife and three children arrived in Edmonton about six months ago from a refugee camp in Lebanon. They had previously lived in Syria.
The hot climate is Syria is drastically different from Canada’s cold climate, and Mansour admits he didn’t know anything about hockey when he first arrived in Edmonton.
One of their first experiences with seeing people on the ice was the rink at the West Edmonton Mall.
“No idea. My country, I have different weather, no ice, nothing,” he said.
That is, until the Millwoods Wolves stepped in. The Wolves, a hockey team compromised of six- and seven-year-olds, had been looking for a Syrian family to teach how to skate.
“What this family had to go through in order to get to Canada, the very least we can do is…share a little bit of fun, share our pastime with them. Let them know they’re here to stay and we’re happy to have them,” said assistant coach Jordan Lowey.
The team connected with the Mansour family through another coach on the team, and on Saturday, they brought the family of five to Totem Outdoor Outfitters to set them up with skates, hockey sticks and helmets.
Kanan Mansour, 12, gets fitted for a pair of skates. Julia Wong/Global News
Kanan Mansour, 12, gets fitted for a pair of skates.
Julia Wong/Global News
Kanan Mansour, 12, said he doesn’t know much about the winter sport and hasn’t watched hockey on TV yet.
“It’s different in our country,” Kanan said, with translation help from his father.
But the enthusiasm of the Wolves to teach the three children about the sport was obvious. The young hockey players high-fived the Kanan, aged 12, Jad, aged 10, and Adeel, aged 7, and welcomed them with a wolf howl.
The Mansour family poses for a picture with the Millwood Wolves. Julia Wong/Global News
The Mansour family poses for a picture with the Millwood Wolves.
Julia Wong/Global News
“They’re excited with teaching these kids how to skate,” Lowey said. “We have kids saying ‘I’m really good at stopping. I want to teach them how to stop. I’m really good at starting. I want to teach them how to start.’”
The initiation into the Canadian sport came full circle when the Mansour children hit the ice with the team Sunday afternoon.
Daughter Adeel clutched her mom while on the ice while sons Kanan and Jad skated back and forth furiously while clutching hockey sticks.
“This sport is famous in this country. Everybody likes [it],” Mansour said.
The children are unofficial Millwood Wolves, but Lowey said he hopes they learn to love the sport and join the team.
“I would love to coach them in hockey. They seem so excited and that’s the number one thing.”