The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation unveiled its 11th outdoor multipurpose and refrigerated rink today on Lépine Street, in the Saint-Pierre Nord district of Joliette, as part of its BLEU BLANC BOUGE program. To mark the official opening, Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Dominique Ducharme, as well as several Canadiens Alumni who grew up or played hockey in the area, were on hand to skate alongside kids from neighbouring schools. This new BLEU BLANC BOUGE ice rink differs from the previous ones 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 roof that the City of Joliette has chosen to add to the project.
“The impact of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program is a source of great pride for both the Canadiens organization and its Foundation. We now have 11 skating rinks on which kids in different regions of Quebec can be active. By working in collaboration with local community stakeholders, these infrastructures allow us to be an agent of positive change for the health of our youth. We are pleased to team up with the City of Joliette to make this rink an active gathering place for young people in the region,” said Geneviève Paquette, executive director of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and vice-president of community engagement for the Montreal Canadiens.
All 11 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. The City of Joliette 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, as demonstrated by the history of successful concerted projects of the Communauté d’action jeunesse de la MRC de Joliette (CAJOL).
“For many young and old Joliettains, the dream started the day we made the announcement… Before even being accessible to the public, the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rink in Joliette was already a success! On behalf of the hundreds of citizens of Joliette who will benefit from these installations every day, we thank you sincerely. Not only will this project get our youth active, but this skating rink will also give all local kids an opportunity to dream big and feel privileged, and that is a precious, invaluable gift,” said Alain Beaudry, the mayor of Joliette.
In addition to collaborating with the municipality, 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. A new partnership was announced last spring with Harnois Énergies, which donated $100,000 to support the deployment of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program in Joliette and Val-d’Or, where the Foundation’s next rink will be built. For Harnois Énergies, whose head office is located only a few kilometres away in Saint-Thomas and who also has a regional office in Val-d’Or, this partnership was in part motivated by the company’s desire to invest in communities where the organization is already well established, notably by supporting sports projects.
As a first-rate partner of the Foundation since 2001, Desjardins Securities has been showing their support for children in need by donating more than $7 million to the Foundation over the years to help it achieve its mission and objectives, including the construction and activation of its BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks.
“Desjardins Securities has been working with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation for 18 years. We are happy to contribute not only to this great project from which all Lanaudois will be able to benefit for many years to come, but also to support various initiatives implemented by the Foundation as well as by the dozens of organizations it provides financial support to annually in order to get underprivileged youth active across the province,” said Marjorie Minet, the vice-president of advisory services andwealth management at Desjardins.
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.
“Our commitment and collaboration with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation is deep and lasting. With the change of identity from Québec en Forme to M361 | Moteur d’impact social, we share more than ever this desire to create a positive social impact in communities. Sport and physical activity are very effective means of achieving this, and we are proud to be associated with this significant accomplishment,” said Marilie Laferté, the executive director of M361.
About the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program
Built in accordance with NHL standards and dimensions (200 by 85 feet) and featuring professional ice quality, the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks are versatile enough to be used for other sports during the year. Predominantly used for ice skating and hockey from the end of 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 11 outdoor, refrigerated and multipurpose rinks. Six community rinks have been built in the underprivileged boroughs of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, Montréal-Nord, Verdun, LaSalle, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Ahuntsic-Cartierville — of Montreal, while the other five are located in Longueuil, Laval, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and Joliette. The Foundation has also committed to donate, over the next two years, two additional skating rinks to the municipalities of Val-d’Or and Saguenay
© Crédit photos : Thierry DuBois / OSA Images