Passion and pride come together for WASAC puck dropper and WJHA student athlete Serene Goodwill

February 26, 2024 1:01 pm by Krista Sinaisky Dynamic Featured Image

A passion for hockey and pride in their Indigenous heritage have always been part of Serene Goodwill’s family roots. Now 16, her pride and passion are coming together as she represents her family and her Anishinaabe, Cree and Dakota heritage as a puck dropper at the Winnipeg Jets WASAC Night this Sunday, Feb. 25.

“This is incredibly meaningful to me and I’m really heartened to see the Winnipeg Jets embracing more diversity in their audience. It’s also deeply significant for our Elders, who have endured so much, to finally receive the acknowledgment they’ve long deserved,” said Goodwill.

The sixth annual Winnipeg Jets WASAC Night builds on a 25-plus-year relationship of True North and WASAC working together to engage with and support Indigenous youth – like Goodwill, who has also been a participant in the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA).

An evolution of the L’il Moose program, which is how True North’s partnership with WASAC began, the True North Youth Foundation’s WJHA uses hockey to engage youth in their school and community, and for Goodwill, it was also a way to carry on part of her family legacy.

“I started playing hockey when I was 7 years old,” said Goodwill. “My family has some amazing hockey players, and it inspired me to follow in their footsteps.”

Her passion and pride will be visually evident in the traditional ribbon skirt she is having made especially for the event which will showcase the colours of the Jets’ Indigenized logo.

“I am excited to wear my skirt because my grandmother, Irene Oakes, taught me to wear my ribbon skirt for work or special events. It symbolizes respect for myself as a woman and honours the dignity of my work.”

Sharing, celebrating and participating in her culture is an everyday priority for Goodwill, who has been dancing in pow wows since she could walk. Keen to use her voice to make positive impact, she worked toward a lifelong dream of representing her community on a larger stage as Miss Manito Ahbee.

“My role as Miss Manito Ahbee allows me to advocate for women and girls, and it’s a responsibility to hold with great confidence. I am determined to be as good of an ambassador as I can be, speaking up and standing strong for my community,” she said noting the role has her taking part in celebrations across North America, and honouring and bringing attention to the legacy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

As she prepares to take centre ice on Feb. 25 in the company of other Indigenous youth and Elders, including Manitoba’s first Indigenous judge and former Senate member Murray Sinclair, Goodwill anticipates her late papa, “the most devoted Jets fan I’ve ever known,” will be watching over her, making the moment even more special.

Goodwill wants to use her platforms with the Jets WASAC game and as Miss Manito Ahbee to show Indigenous youth what is possible.

“It’s important to approach everything with pride and honour. By doing so, you not only uplift yourself but also pay tribute to those who have paved the way before you.”

And, no doubt as she will continue to do, her advice to others is to “keep working hard and shining brightly.”

Join us for this year’s WASAC game –