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Home News Mintos get first-hand look at homeless services in Prince Albert

Mintos get first-hand look at homeless services in Prince Albert

Mintos get first-hand look at homeless services in Prince Albert
Stepping Stones Shelter Supervisor Roby Callioux gives the Prince Albert Mintos a tour of their facilities during off hours in November 2022. -- Photo courtesy of the Prince Albert YWCA.

On a regular Saturday, Caden Dunn and his teammates are trading passes, blocking shots, and chasing down loose pucks at the Art Hauser Centre or other rinks around Saskatchewan, but this Saturday is different.

On this day, Dunn and the rest of the Prince Albert Mintos are guests at the YWCA’s Stepping Stones Shelter. Instead of spending time at the rink, they’ve spent a day learning about how homeless shelters operate in Prince Albert, and about the challenges they face in helping the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“I think it just really humbled us,” Dunn says a few days later. “It let us know how much of an opportunity we have playing for the Mintos and how our parents gift us all this stuff to get us here.”

The Mintos roster contains players from several Saskatchewan communities, but most of them are from the Prince Albert area. Dunn was born and raised here, and always knew the community faced challenges. Getting to see the work one organization does to help those in poverty was a real eye-opener.

“It really just made us aware of how good our lives are and the opportunities we’re given,” Dunn says. “I think it inspired most of the boys to start giving to these homeless shelters and people, and to start thinking about what other people may go through in their lives.”

The Mintos did more than just learn during their trip to Stepping Stones during the shelter’s off hours. They also dropped off bags of blankets and cold weather gear the shelter hands out on chilly nights.

David Hambleton, the fund development and volunteer coordinator with the Prince Albert YWCA, says those donations are desperately needed. He’s encouraged by all community groups that take an interest in their work, be it businesses, schools, service clubs, or sports teams.

“We were absolutely thrilled to have that opportunity and interest from the community, especially from the Mintos,” Hambleton says during a phone interview a few days following the visit. “(To have) youth in the community and a well-known hockey team expressing interest in finding out more about homelessness is just absolutely fantastic.”

This isn’t the first time the YWCA has partnered with a community group to give a tour of the shelter. Hambleton says many Prince Albert residents want to know what’s being done to aid the homeless, and the YWCA is happy to show them. However, he’s particularly glad to see interest from youth organizations like the Mintos.

“That’s even more fantastic,” he says. “To have youth show interest in (the shelter) hopefully spreads that knowledge to the next generation.”

Mintos head coach Tim Leonard and mental health and prep coach Tammie Leonard spearheaded the club’s visit to Stepping Stones.

Tammie says it’s important for the players to get a first-hand glimpse of some of the challenges homeless people face. It’s also important for them to show support to organizations like the YWCA.

“I think it’s very important for the community to see what youth are capable of doing, and to lead by example, so other youth can see,” Tammie explains.

“Sometimes I think youth in general maybe get a bad rap for things. We need to start noticing the good that the youth do as well.”

As the team’s mental health coach, Tammie helps foster team unity. She says things like canvassing for cold weather gear to donate to YWCA can bring the club closer together. It also helps the players feel like they contributed to the community, something that’s important for good mental health.

“I just think it’s great to lead by example, and it’s very good for mental health to do stuff like that,” she says. “With any kids in sports, they’re obviously in a bit of a state of privilege. I’ve said to them, ‘what happens when you need a new stick?’ (They say), ‘well, my parents get me a new stick,’ so this way, they got in there, and they really got to see the other side.”