All Indigenous-coached hockey camp comes to Regina to inspire success on and off the ice
Kids eagerly arrived to the Co-operators Centre in Regina this week for an 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 — held a skills camp on Feb. 20 and 21 in Regina. The camp was aimed at helping youth succeed both on and off the ice.
Sydney won a gold medal at the 2011 World Under-18 tournament, played for Harvard and spent a season in the National Women's Hockey League. She was in her fifth season as the assistant coach for the Harvard University female hockey team in September 2022 when she got the opportunity of a lifetime. She was named the college scout for the Winnipeg Jets, becoming the first female to hold a scouting position with the team.
The Daniels family ran their first hockey camp five years ago with about 50 Indigenous kids. The school now coaches nearly 400 kids a year.
The operation is family run, with Sydney's mom helping sign in kids, her aunt greeting kids and her grandma there to be the Kokum of the camp.
Sydney said the hockey camp is a way for her to come back home and give Indigenous kids the same opportunity her father and grandfather gave her.
"They really give me a a huge source of passion and purpose," Sydney said. "They make me want to keep doing this forever, and hopefully help more and more Indigenous youth in the province and maybe even beyond."
Sydney grew up in Massachusetts, but she is from Mistawasis Nêhiyawak First Nation in Saskatchewan.
She often played on the hockey rink her grandfather made on his farm in Leask, Sask.
Her grandfather played hockey while attending the St. Micheals Residential School, which gave him opportunities other kids at the school didn't get.
The love for hockey runs in the family. Sydney's dad 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 at learn-to-skate programs. We all needed somebody to look up to," said Scott.
Parents brought their kids to the camp from places as far as White Bear First Nation and Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.
Derek Gardipy from Beardy's and Okemasis Cree Nation brought his daughter Mckenna.
"At an early age, it keeps them grounded. We we want our next generations to be prosperous in physical health and education as well. Hockey is education as well," said Gardipy.
Seven-year-old Landon loved how everyone cheered him on when he was doing his drills and shooting the puck.
"I want to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs when I grow up," Landon said.