The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation unveiled its 12th outdoor multipurpose and refrigerated rink today in downtown Val-d’Or, as part of its BLEU BLANC BOUGE program. Located at the intersection of 6th Street and 6th Avenue, just a stone’s throw from the Centre Agnico Eagle, this new BLEU BLANC BOUGE ice rink is distinguished by its use of a new energy efficient refrigeration system powered by CO2, its universally accessible facilities for the practice of sledge hockey, and by the wooden and steel roof that the City of Val-d’Or has chosen to add to the project.
To mark the official opening, several Canadiens Alumni who grew up or played hockey in the area – such as Serge Savard, Réjean Houle and Steve Bégin – were on hand to skate alongside kids from Saint-Lucie School and the First Nations communities of Lac Simon, Kitcisakik and Val-d’Or. Mr. Roger Wylde, an artist from the Abitibiwinni First Nation of Pikogan, was accompanied by Dany Pien and Wayne Papatie, members of the Lac Simon Screaming Eagles, for the presentation of a traditional Anishnabe ceremony and an opening song on the drum.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being active and healthy, and of investing in our communities to provide the winning conditions for regular physical activity. We are proud to be able to offer residents of Val-d’Or and the surrounding area a brand new modern, accessible and quality sports and recreational infrastructure, where residents of all ages can safely get active year-round. This new rink, which brings to 12 the number of BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks built across the province, allows us to be an agent of change for the health of young people in Quebec,” said Geoff Molson, owner, president and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens.
“It is with great pride that we inaugurate our BLEU BLANC BOUGE skating rink in Val-d’Or today. The community of Val-d’Or now benefits from a high-quality infrastructure for the practice of various sports. This project was very mobilizing and inspiring for the community. It’s definitely an important addition to our quality of life,” said the mayor of Val-d’Or, Céline Brindamour.
As a first-rate partner of the Foundation since 2001, Desjardins Securities has been supporting children in need by contributing financially to the Foundation to help it achieve its mission and objectives, including the construction and activation of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks.
“For 20 years, Desjardins Securities has teamed up with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. To date, we have raised over $8.2 million for this cause through the mobilization of our teams, who are firmly committed to making a positive difference in the communities where they are deeply rooted. We are proud to contribute not only to this achievement, from which the entire Val-d’Or community will benefit for many years to come, but also to support various initiatives implemented by the Foundation and the dozens of organizations for which it provides annual financial support in order to get underprivileged youth across the province to keep active,” said Marjorie Minet, the vice-president of advisory services and wealth management at Desjardins.
The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation also relies on the support of local businesses who wish to get involved in this promising project for their community. In 2019, Harnois Énergies chose to contribute $100,000 to the deployment of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program in Val-d’Or and in Joliette, where the Foundation’s 11th ice rink was inaugurated in January 2020. Having a regional office in Val-d’Or, this partnership is motivated in part by the company’s desire to invest in communities where the organization is already well-established, notably by supporting sports projects.
“Getting involved within our communities is one of Harnois Énergies’ core values. Sport is synonymous with energy, so it was only natural for us to support such a great project,” said Serge Harnois, president and CEO of Harnois Énergies.
Wishing to encourage youth sport development in the region and to contribute to the healthy living habits of the population, Eldorado Gold Quebec has also supported the construction of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rink in downtown Val-d’Or, by making a financial contribution of $400,000 for the erection of a permanent roof over the rink to maximize its use.
All 12 community rinks are vibrant sports facilities that provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds with a unique opportunity to gather and discover the many benefits of a healthy and physically active lifestyle. To ensure the success of this program, the Foundation formed a dynamic partnership with M361, formerly known as Québec en Forme. Both organizations have been working closely together to select communities in which to implement the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program, in order to develop effective ways to activate the rinks and adequately measure the impact of these initiatives. The City of Val-d’Or has distinguished itself by its large number of underprivileged children and schools, its great needs in terms of local outdoor sports infrastructure, and by the presence of several multi-sector groups mobilized around issues related to the adoption of a healthy lifestyle among young people through non-profits such as the Maison de la famille, Programme Accès Loisirs and Agir-Tôt.
About the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program
Built in accordance with NHL standards and dimensions (200 feet by 85 feet) and featuring professional ice quality, BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks are versatile enough to be used for other sports during the year. Predominantly used for ice skating and hockey from late November to mid-March, the rinks become an ideal playground for other sports such as basketball, soccer, ball hockey and other types of games during the spring, summer and fall months. The donation of this infrastructure comes with 100 pairs of skates, 100 helmets and 100 hockey sticks for children to use at the facility.
A flagship project of the Foundation since 2009, the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program now has 12 outdoor, refrigerated and multipurpose rinks. Six community rinks have been built in underprivileged boroughs of Montreal, while the other six are located in Longueuil, Laval, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Joliette and Val-d’Or. The Foundation is currently finalizing the construction of a 13th skating rink, which will be inaugurated this winter in the municipality of Saguenay, in the borough of Jonquière.