Two of our Kingswood staff members, Rob Matthews, director of worship, and David Walker, maintenance facilitator, embarked on a week-long trip (March 6-13, 2017) to the tiny 450-member Inuit community of Kimmirut in Nunavut. They travelled with Penobsquis Baptist Church and Calvary Pentecostal Church members Corey Barton, Steve Gillies, Bob Parlee, and Greg Keith, to set up a hockey camp for the children there.
Invited back by the school board, having already been to Kimmirut the previous year (March 17-25, 2016), Rob, Dave, and the other men began to fundraise for their trip. They had so many supporters, that Rob says, “The number of networks we have is unbelievable.”
Main supporters of this project:
- First Air, the only airline to the North, agreed to yet again sponsor the men’s trip, reducing their tickets from approximately $7,700 to $1,300.
- Taste and See Restaurant put together three dinner/dessert fundraisers towards the cost outreach.
- Project North, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Inuit youth, gave a variety of hockey equipment (helmets, jerseys, and insignia caps) some of which had been autographed by NHL players.
- Sussex Canadian Tire gave the team significant discounts on hockey sticks, tape, mouth guards, and laces.
- The Sussex Sharing Club donated skates, pads, and bags.
- Hockey Ministries International and Gideons Canada provided Bibles and tracts.
- Bob Parlee, owner of Right Switch Electrical and team member, donated the repair of the community score-board, as well the parts and repair of the community’s only skate sharpening machine.
At the mercy of oftentimes dangerous and unpredictable northern weather, the men flew safely into the community from Nunavut’s capital Iqaluit (This was unlike the last trip when they were stranded in Iqaluit for three days.).
Having taught in Kimmirut for three and half years as a school teacher, Rob returned to be greeted by beloved, familiar faces. Dave too touched down on familiar ground, for the second time, ready to strap on his skates and play some hockey.
Although Kimmirut possesses a hockey arena, it has little in the way of organized hockey programs, due to lack of money and support. Plus, because of the restrictive conditions of the North, it would be nearly impossible for a potential hockey team to travel to compete with other schools.
Dave, along with Bob and Steve, learned to sharpen skates, in order to teach Kimmirut enthusiasts to do the same. They also came ready to repair the arena’s broken scoreboard.
Dave says, “We organized a hockey camp during the day, for all the children from grades 1-12.” Rob adds, “We had 120 children come out to play hockey, and more parents came out than last year’s camp.” Since there are few activities for the children, this was a highlight for many of them. They couldn’t wait to hang out with the men and play hockey.
During the evenings, the team organized a Sunday school of sorts for the kids. Working with the only church in the community St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Rob and the others performed dramas, taught Bible lessons, and led the children in singing. They had about 70 of the children attend. Rob and Dave both shared how much the children loved to sing. Rob firmly believes, “Music has the power to transform lives.”
Their skits focused on communicating the Gospel message, following verses in Romans. Rob was able to lead the eighty people present in praying the Sinner’s Prayer. Many prayed it for the first time. Because securing food is often a major issue in these isolated communities, their entire program always included feeding the children meals or snacks.
The team also worked with the high school students to build relationships with them. They had a Friday evening youth outreach event. Then on Saturday evening, they invited all the children to come. They ate grilled cheese sandwiches and sang together again. The children responded with open minds and hearts.
The team also had many opportunities to chat with the parents and other adults of the community. Many asked for prayer, and the men were able to go into various homes to pray for people.
Rob shares, “We could feel a blanketing of prayer. We could really sense God’s presence. Although there were some challenging moments, we knew the Holy Spirit was there with us, giving us peace and helping us discern the right direction throughout our trip.”