(Edmonton, AB) - On Tuesday, February 19 the Edmonton Oilers will once again proudly celebrate diversity and inclusion in hockey with a special Hockey is for Everyone Night, as they take on the Arizona Coyotes.
Hockey is for Everyone is a National Hockey League (NHL) initiative that uses the game of hockey - and the League's global influence - to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities. The program celebrates all hockey players, coaches, athletes and fans who are passionate about the sport, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.
Earlier this month, the Edmonton Oilers hosted an Introduction to Hockey session as part of Hockey Is For Everyone. Thirty participants from the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers were invited to the Downtown Community Arena attached to Rogers Place for the chance to try hockey with Oilers/NHL Alumni members Shawn Belle, Mark Fistric and Rob Brown. For a few participants, it was even their first time on skates.
For Hockey Is For Everyone Night, the Oilers have invited 450 special guests from various local organizations, community groups and non-profits that support diversity and inclusion to come and enjoy the game. These organizations will also be recognized with a special on-ice presentation. They include the Alberta Sports and Recreation Association for the Blind, Edmonton Adaptive Sports Association, amiskwaciy Academy, the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Pride Tape and the Pride Centre of Edmonton.
Oilers players will use Pride Tape during the warmup to show their support. Pride Tape, created in Edmonton, is a multicolored tape, which is a physical symbol or badge of support used to promote inclusiveness in sports. The players' sticks will be auctioned off as part of the upcoming Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation online charity auction, launching on Thursday, February 21, with net proceeds from the sale supporting the You Can Play Project, a non-profit committed to supporting the LGBTQ community and fighting homophobia in sports.
Pride Tape will also be available for purchase on the concourse of Rogers Place.
Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira returns as the Oilers Ambassador for Hockey Is For Everyone this year. "It's important for us as players to act as role models for the kids coming up behind us," said Khaira. "It's a great feeling to help spread the excitement of hockey to players at any level or even fans cheering on their favourite team, by showing them everyone is welcome through initiatives like Hockey Is For Everyone."
Fans can share their experiences of respect and inclusion on and off the ice on social media using #HockeyIsForEveryone.