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Saint Mary’s introducing Syrian newcomers to the good ole’ hockey game at University Cup

17 March, 2016

Update: Watch Syrian fans enjoying hockey for the first time


When Saint Mary’s plays their first game at the CIS Men’s National Championship on Friday night there will be some special guests in the crowd. Saint Mary’s University Athletics & Recreation in partnership with Sports Entertainment Atlantic, the Enactus 360 project and Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre, has invited over 60 Syrian newcomers to Halifax, to attend the game.

“Saint Mary’s is Canada’s international university and we’re always looking for new ways to incorporate intercultural sharing and learning among our students and with our community,” said Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, Saint Mary’s University President.

“Along with our partners at Sports Entertainment Atlantic we thought the University Cup was a great opportunity to not only introduce the Syrian newcomers to a piece of Canadian culture, but also to welcome them into the community at a fun event,” said Kevin Downie, Saint Mary’s University Athletic Director.

Derek Martin, President of Sports Entertainment Atlantic said that the University Cup is a celebration showcasing the best young hockey players in Canada and sharing that celebration with Halifax’s new Syrian community was too great an opportunity to pass up.

“With a big event like this we wanted to find a way to reach beyond the regular hockey fan,” said Martin. “What better way to do that than to bring someone to their first hockey game and also welcome them to their new home.”

The Syrian newcomers are currently living inthe community surrounding Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre. Saint Mary’s has not only arranged for them to be bussed to and from the game, but to have Arabic speaking guides with them to answer any questions they might have about anything from the rules of hockey, the teams they are watching to the spectacle that is a hockey game in Canada. On the bus they will also be presented with a SMU Huskies T-shirt and cheer gear to give them an authentic Saint Mary’s hockey experience.

Ossama Nasrallah

Ossama Nasrallah is Vice President of Student Affairs with SMUSA, which is sponsoring the bus. He is also part of the Enactus 360 Project that has been providing assistance to Syrian newcomers since they started arriving in Nova Scotia. Nasrallah says the trip to the hockey game will be an eye opening experience for the Syrian newcomers, many of whom have never been in an ice rink let alone attended a hockey game.

“This is such a wonderful event that Saint Mary’s and the University Cup organizers are putting together,” he says. “I have spoken with a number of the Syrian newcomers and they are very excited, especially the young children to experience their first hockey game.”

The Saint Mary’s Huskie s men’s hockey team takes to the ice in their University Cup debut at the Scotiabank Centre on Friday night at 8 p.m. They will be facing the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes. The winner moves on to the tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon.