OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The Kamloops Long Blades Association are the proud winners of this year’s Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award. The British Columbia based club will receive a $10,000 grand prize to support a grassroots development project that aims to welcome new Canadians to their club and become part of the community through sport. The club will also receive a visit from a pair of National Team athletes during the 2021-2022 season.
Four additional speed skating clubs – Peninsula Speed Skating Club (North Saanich, BC), Milton Speed Skating Club (Milton, ON), Richmond Rockets Speed Skating Club (Richmond, BC) and Club de patinage de vitesse Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Montréal, QC) – were named finalists for the annual award and will each take home a $2,500 cash prize to help finance their respective initiatives, which are detailed below.
Generously sponsored by Speed Skating Canada’s longstanding partner, Intact Insurance, the Club Excellence Award distributes $20,000 in grants each season to local speed skating clubs undertaking grassroots development initiatives that help the sport grow and thrive within their community. The award recognizes the contributions of local speed skating clubs to sport and community development and the importance of grassroots programs to high performance success.
Dozens of clubs from across the country submitted project ideas, ranging from diversity and inclusion programming; to the purchase of new safety mats or skating equipment; to open house initiatives that increase awareness of the sport. Those submissions were evaluated based on the need in the local community, the potential for positive impact, the plan and resources in place to roll out the project and the ability to measure its success.
Since 2010, Intact Insurance has donated a total of $420,000 directly to speed skating clubs through the former Podium Tracker program and current Club Excellence Award. The insurance provider’s commitment to supporting both high performance and grassroots speed skating was further solidified with last month’s announcement of a renewal of their longstanding partnership with Speed Skating Canada, which began in 2006 and will now extend through the 2025-26 season.
Kamloops Long Blades Association (Kamloops, BC)
The Kamloops Long Blades Association will use the Club Excellence Award grand prize to further develop their SWIFT (Speed Skating with International Friends Together) program, run in collaboration with the Kamloops-Cariboo Regional Immigrant Services. The program looks to bring new Canadians to the rink and teach them how to speed skate. The goal of the program is to welcome new Canadians to the club and create opportunities for kids and their families to make new friends and become part of the community through sport.
Peninsula Speed Skating Club (North Saanich, BC)
The Peninsula Speed Skating Club will use the Club Excellence Award funding to support their Mom Monday initiative – a fun, inclusive and supportive program that encourages moms within the club and the local community to participate in various aspects of speed skating and enjoy both the mental and physical health benefits of being physically active.
Milton Speed Skating Club (Milton, ON)
The Milton Speed Skating Club hosts the annual Team Relay Challenge, one of the most unique racing events in the country. This all-relay speed skating meet provides skaters of all ages and abilities the opportunity to learn from doing relays in a competitive format. The club will use Club Excellence Award funds to improve event-related infrastructure and develop resources that would allow clubs from across the country to replicate the event in their community.
Richmond Rockets Speed Skating Club (Richmond, BC)
With little over a dozen members three years ago, the Richmond Rockets Speed Skating Club are now the largest speed skating club in British Columbia with 126 members. To meet the growing demand for speed skating in Richmond, the club will use Club Excellence Award funds to increase their capacity and further develop introductory and initiation programming.
Club de patinage de vitesse Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Montréal, QC)
Since its founding in 2019, the CPV Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has faced numerous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented them from being able to offer a full season of programming. Despite that, the club administrators continue to work tirelessly to keep the club running and will use funds from the Club Excellence Award to offer open house events and purchase protective mats, which will eliminate the need for older skaters to change clubs where this type of infrastructure is readily available.
“We are so excited to be able to introduce speed skating to some ‘new to Canada’ kids and their families! The Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award will allow these kids to skate with our club, make new friends and have fun, without having to worry about the cost. Sport is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and skating is about as Canadian as you can get, so this initiative seems like a perfect welcome. We can’t wait to get started!”Trish Archibald, Treasurer, Kamloops Long Blades Association
“Intact Insurance is proud to be a long-time sponsor of Speed Skating Canada and see the direct and positive impact this partnership has on local clubs across the country. Congratulations to this year’s grand prize winning Kamloops Long Blades Association, as well as the four other finalists from North Saanich, Milton, Richmond and Montreal.”Humberto Valencia, Vice President, Marketing, Customer Experience and Data Marketing, Intact Insurance
“We were very impressed with the submission we received from local speed skating clubs for this year’s Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award. They’ve developed some very creative ways to help our sport reach new audiences and their commitment to making speed skating more accessible and inclusive is inspiring. The funding provide through the Club Excellence Award will go a long way in helping these five clubs grow the sport in their respective communities, something that would not be possible without Intact Insurance’s ongoing support.”Susan Auch, Chief Executive Officer, Speed Skating Canada