University of Windsor Lancers to help build homes for those displaced by wildfires and floods

Mason Kohn and the Windsor Lancers are heading to Merritt, BC at the end of the summer to help build five homes for people in the First Nations communities in Nicola Valley displaced by wildfires and floods last year.

Kohn spent time in BC for a job last summer.

“I’d always see helicopters coming in, dropping water all over. There were so many resources that were being expunged and I thought ‘people are still devastated by these events,’” said the recently-named captain of the men’s hockey team.

Head coach Kevin Hamlin added, “There’s still 600 people in Merritt that are outside their homes. You know, Merritt’s a pretty small place. To think that we’re going to help just a little bit, I think will be important.”

A contingent of 35 players, coaches and other university staff will head out during the last week of August. They’ll be joined by Unifor employees in the skilled trades to help with the build.

“People will donate their time and they will go there. We will pay their expenses and per diems and then their time is on their own. They take vacation time and they go rebuild this,” said Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy after presenting Hamlin with a check for $50,000 to help the relief effort.

“I know coach has always said to us he just doesn’t want to produce champions on the ice. He wants to produce champions off the ice and that was something very important to us,” said Cassidy.

As part of the trip the Lancers will also offer a hockey academy to the youth of the community through a partnership with the Merritt Centennials Jr. hockey team.

Once they are off the ice players will then participate in one of three community outreach presentations developed by the “Lancers.

The programs include ‘Lancers Against Bullying,’ ‘Lancers Shutout Domestic Violence’ and ‘Skate Against Hate.’

Hamlin feels these programs will be part of the legacy they leave behind when their job is done.

“We are leaving these there for the Merritt Centennials so that they can go in the schools and do what we do here,” he said.

Khon likes how the trip is well rounded.

“We get to use our sport to be able to contribute to the community in many different ways,” he said.

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