All Indigenous coached hockey camps come to Regina to inspire success on and off the ice
Children eagerly came to the Co-operators Center in Regina this week for the opportunity to learn from someone they look up to.
The Daniels Hockey School – run by Sydney Daniels and her father, former NHL player Scott Daniels – hosted a skills camp on February 20-21 in Regina. The goal of the camp was to help youth succeed on and off the ice.
Sydney won a gold medal at the 2011 World U18 Tournament, played for Harvard and spent a season in the National Women’s Hockey League. She was in her fifth season as an assistant coach on the Harvard University ice hockey team in September 2022 when she was given the opportunity of a lifetime. She was named a college scout for the Winnipeg Jets, becoming the first woman to hold a scouting position on the team.
The Daniels family held their first hockey camp five years ago with about 50 Indigenous children. The school now trains almost 400 children a year.
The operation is family run, with Sydney’s mother helping register the children, her aunt welcoming the children and her grandma being the camp’s kokum.
Sydney said hockey camp is a way for her to return home and give Indigenous children the same opportunity her father and grandfather gave her.
“You really give me a great source of passion and purpose,” Sydney said. “You make me want to do this forever and hopefully help more and more indigenous youth in the province and maybe even beyond.”
Sydney grew up in Massachusetts but is from Mistawasi’s Nêhiyawak First Nation in Saskatchewan.
She often played on the hockey rink her grandfather built on his farm in Leask, Sask.
Her grandfather played hockey while attending St. Michaels Residential School, which gave him opportunities other kids at the school didn’t get.
The love of ice hockey runs in the family. Sydney’s father Scott was in the NHL, but a concussion ended his career early.
Syndey credits him with teaching her hockey skills at a young age.
“We all started learning on learn-to-skate programs. We all needed someone to look up to,” Scott said.
Parents brought their children to camp from places like White Bear First Nation and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.
Derek Gardipy of Beardy’s and Okemasis’ Cree Nation brought his daughter Mckenna with him.
“At an early age, it keeps them grounded. We want our next generations to thrive in physical health and education as well. Hockey is education, too,” Gardipy said.
Seven-year-old Landon loved how everyone cheered him on as he practiced and shot the puck.
“I want to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs when I grow up,” Landon said.