The St. Paul Junior Canadiens Alumni Foundation made big strides this year despite the pandemic and hope to see that momentum continue through increased participation by alumni and increased support of the local hockey club.
Opportunities for that participation are coming in the form of hockey games against Montreal Canadiens alumni and indigenous NHL alumni players in Fall 2021 and Winter 2022.
Alumni Foundation President Pat Lamoureux has spent the last year working to re-establish the club’s unique relationship with the Montreal Canadiens.
“Our founders Clancy Richard and Pat O’Neill, and a number of other local families were quite instrumentally involved in the early days in the 1950’s with connecting with the Montreal Canadiens and creating an affiliation program where the St. Paul Canadiens would be developing young players and would be being scouted and overseen by the Montreal Canadiens,” said Lamoureux.
He said the teams remained connected well in to the 1980’s before the connection faded. Lamoureux played on the 1986 provincial championship team. Last year, he reached out to the Montreal Canadiens via a letter.
“And I was overwhelmed by the response of the immediate interest. There was absolutely no hesitation and the conversation began,” said Lamoureux.
As a result of that conversation, plans are being made for Montreal Canadiens alumni to come to St. Paul in February 2022 to play a game against St. Paul Canadiens alumni.
“There’s going to be a series of events around that weekend that we are going to be planning and in the days and weeks to come we’ll have a lot more public knowledge of what that’s going to look like,” said Lamoureux.
The St. Paul Junior Canadiens also have royalty free usage of the trademark red and white colours and logo.
Lamoureux said re-establishing the relationship with the Montreal Canadiens isn’t just about hockey or about the alumni foundation, but about preserving the history of what he believes to be one of the oldest junior franchises in Canada.
Hockey as a path to reconciliation
Located in northeastern Alberta, more than two hours drive from Edmonton, many of the neighbouring communities to St. Paul are First Nations reserves and Metis Settlements. The town was once called St-Paul-des-Metis and efforts to foster good relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous people in the region are ongoing.
According to Lamoureux, the St. Paul Canadiens have consistently had at least a few First Nations players on the team every year and for many years wouldn’t have been able to ice a hockey team without them.
“Every year the club has been blessed to have amazing First Nations players, and we are going to take steps to acknowledge that in October,” said Lamoureux.
A charity golf tournament is planned for Oct. 21 to raise money for the Alumni Foundation and the team. Lamoureux said they hope to use that event as “a platform for reconciliation with the greater community.”
“We reached out to the National Hockey League’s Indigenous Alumni group led by John Chabot, Bryan Trottier, Reggie Leach, some old names there that you may or may not recognize. But these individuals have assembled an NHL indigenous hockey team that travels. And we are bringing them into St Paul,” said Lamoureux.
“We’re just confirming our dates but it will be in mid-October in St. Paul, where we will be hosting an indigenous hockey game with National Hockey League indigenous players. We are going to be reaching out to our First Nations partners and our brothers, and in addition to any of the First Nations players ever played for the St. Paul Canadiens to be in attendance and to properly acknowledge that.”
Charity number established
The final step taken by the Alumni Foundation this year is establishing themselves as a charitable organization recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency.
“That means that our charitable alumni foundation now can properly provide donors and sponsors and advertisers a meaningful taxable benefit receipt in making their contribution and supporting the club or the alumni,” said Lamoureux.
He said they want to make sure the club is set up for success so it will never experience financial distress.
The foundation plans to support scholarships for players as well as minor hockey development not only in St. Paul but also in the surrounding communities of Elk Point, Mallaig, Glendon, Saddle Lake and Goodfish Lake.
“Those great communities that have been great over the years for the club and the community,” said Lamoureux.