Zach Whitecloud, the defenceman from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation who helped the Vegas Golden Knights capture the Stanley Cup earlier this month, is part of a new inclusion coalition.
Details of the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition were announced on June 27 in Nashville, where league reps have converged for this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
The NHL and its players’ association have pledged $1 million (U.S.) to support 20 programs and projects run by various grassroots organizations.
All of the initiatives are spearheaded by coalition members, which consists of current and former NHLers as well as elite women’s players.
Because of Whitecloud’s involvement with the coalition, the annual Dakota Nation Winterfest Minor Hockey Tournament will receive a grant, which will be used to subsidize entry fees for participating squads.
Other Indigenous coalition members are Ethan Bear, Brigette Lacquette and Abby Roque.
Bear is a defenceman with the Vancouver Canucks and a member of Ochapowace Nation in Saskatchewan. The project he’s supporting is the annual Little Native Hockey League tournament staged in Ontario.
Lacquette, a member of Cote First Nation in Sask., is the first First Nations woman to crack the Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team roster. She is supporting the Siksika SN7 program in Alberta, which provides hockey programming for Siksika Nation youth and young adults.
Roque, who is from Wahnapitae First Nation in northern Ontario, has dual citizenship and is a star forward with the U.S. women’s national team. She’s involved with the Clark Park Coalition Hockey, a venture that offers recreational, educational, social and mentoring programs for Detroit-area families.