The Blair Boys’ chasing hockey dreams with the WJHA

February 20, 2024 9:59 am by Payton Robinson Dynamic Featured Image

In the fall of 2023, nine-year-old twins Ajani and Amarii Blair, recent newcomers from Jamaica, took their first strides on the ice as they joined True North Youth Foundation’s (TNYF) Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA).

Ajani quickly fell in love with the sport and the fascination of how fast you could move on the ice and would often call his mom and say in a daydreamy tone, “Mommy look hooockey.”

Amarii is equally enthusiastic about hockey and envisions being able to play professionally with his brother one day.

“Ever since our mom started calling us ‘the Blair Boys’ I thought it would be cool to play together on a line with my brother,” said Ajani.

Not only do the Blair Boys get to continue playing the sport they love, but they are surrounded by a supportive TNYF community, only adding to their parents’ appreciation for the program.

“It’s a dream come true because they always wanted to play hockey. Especially for us, it is a blessing because we couldn’t see how we could afford to get them into the sport,” said the boys’ mother, Terrian.

The WJHA gives 700 student athletes the chance to hone their skills on the ice each year, providing all equipment and an opportunity to play more competitively on minor teams.

“So many kids fall in love with hockey through the WJHA but more than that, it’s a place where meaningful friendships form, where community is built and where we can welcome diversity in the game at the grassroots level,” said Murray Cobb, WJHA Director.

The program actively works to make the sport more inclusive and diverse, reducing barriers to participate, including cost, transportation and access, and ensuring new Canadians and groups that are traditionally underrepresented in hockey, have the chance to learn fundamental skills and life lessons through play, like hard work, teamwork and perseverance.

“It’s important that our program reflects the growing diversity of our community and makes everyone feel at home on the ice.”

For now, the Blair Boys appreciate hockey as a fun way to be with friends and get exercise but Terrian knows the opportunity to play holds many more impacts, not just for her own family, but for the larger community.

“Hockey has the potential to advance social change. It is a national sport that can unite us and bridge the racial and social divide,” said Terrian. “Hats off to the WJHA for investing in the children, the future generation and opening the doors for minorities such as Blacks to get this opportunity to develop physically, socially and mentally and ultimately contribute to societal development and doing it in a fun way.”