Mark Chipman is the Executive Chairman of the Board of True North Sports + Entertainment and Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club. In addition, he serves as the Governor of the Winnipeg Jets on the NHL’s Board of Governors and is Chairman of the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Chipman attended the University of North Dakota where he lettered in varsity football while earning an Honors B.A. in Economics and a Juris Doctorate Degree in Law. Chipman entered the business of professional hockey in 1996 through the acquisition and relocation of the International Hockey League’s (IHL) Minnesota Moose to Winnipeg. As President of the Manitoba Moose Hockey Club, Chipman led the initiative that resulted in the acceptance of six IHL teams into the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2001. For the following ten seasons Chipman was an active member of the AHL’s Executive Committee during which time he developed True North’s vision and eventually the opportunity for the return of NHL hockey to Manitoba.
Together with business partner David Thomson, Chipman led the team that developed Bell MTS Place, the Bell MTS Iceplex and ultimately the acquisition and relocation of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. The club was re-named the Winnipeg Jets by Chipman at the 2011 NHL entry draft.
Chipman has been the recipient of a number of awards including the AHL’s James C. Hendy and Thomas Ebright awards as well as the Order of Manitoba and the University of North Dakota’s Sioux Award.
In addition to his business and hockey interests, Chipman is actively involved in a number of Winnipeg community efforts. He and his wife Patti have both played major roles with the True North Youth Foundation since its inception in 1996.
President & Chief Operating Officer
John Olfert has been with True North Sports + Entertainment since 2001, serving in a variety of capacities during the development and opening of Bell MTS Place (2004) and Bell MTS Iceplex (2010), acquisition of the Winnipeg Jets NHL franchise (2011), and overseeing the financial and administrative operations of True North’s properties and teams. Olfert served as True North’s Chief Financial Officer from 2002 until 2014, when he transitioned into the broader role of Chief Operating Officer. In this role Olfert oversaw the return of the Manitoba Moose AHL franchise to Winnipeg, True North’s acquisition of the Burton Cummings Theatre (2014), as well as significant venue reinvestment projects at both the Burt and Bell MTS Place. Olfert was named President & Chief Operating Officer of True North Sports + Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets in 2019.
Olfert is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg, where he played in the Wesmen Volleyball program, and has a CPA, CGA designation. Prior to joining True North, Olfert began his career in both not-for-profit and venture capital organizations. He has been an active member on the True North Youth Foundation board (and its predecessor Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation), and has served Winnipeg’s charitable and sports community in a variety of board, coaching of volunteer capacities.
John and his wife Brenda have four children; Bryn, Joel, Luke and Beth.
President, True North Real Estate Development
After serving as True North Sports + Entertainment’s President & CEO since its inception, Jim Ludlow transitioned to the role of President, TN Development in 2014, advancing and developing a variety of commercial and real estate developments, expanding the footprint of True North and adding to Winnipeg’s physical and business landscape.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Ludlow attended the University of Manitoba, earning a B.A., and then attended Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, where he received his law degree. Prior to joining True North in 1999, Ludlow was a partner at a senior Canadian law-firm, and previous to that was General Counsel and Vice-President of Corporate Development to a leading Canadian venture-capital firm.
Ludlow is actively involved in the Winnipeg community, having served or currently serving as a member of the boards of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, CentreVenture Development Corporation, Alpine Canada, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Walker Theatre Performing Arts Group Inc. He previously held the position of Honorary Colonel with 1 CFFTS at 17 Wing Winnipeg, and in 2011 was the recipient of the national award for Business Achievement at the Western Canada General Counsel Awards in Vancouver.
Jim is the proud father of four children – Cedric, Charlie, Fiona, and Amanda.
Chief Brand & Commercial Officer
Christina Litz joined True North Sports + Entertainment’s leadership team in May 2021, in the newly created role of Chief Brand & Commercial Officer (CBCO).
After achieving a Bachelor of Arts and law degree from the University of Manitoba, Litz’s career took her to Toronto in 1997 where she first worked as an Associate for Torys LLP before taking the role of Director, Business & Legal Affairs at Bell Media-owned CHUM Radio & Television. In ensuing years, Litz took her expertise to some of Canada’s largest communications and media corporations at TELUS and Rogers Media, before joining Corus Entertainment as Vice President, Digital Content & Engagement.
Litz then transitioned into the sports and entertainment industry, joining the Canadian Football League in 2014, advancing to the role of Chief Marketing, Digital & Strategy Officer. Most recently, Litz has served as Vice President, Media, Digital, Business & Revenue Development for the Woodbine Entertainment Group, where she led all customer-facing business development, digital strategy, broadcast, content and social media for Canada’s largest horse racing and multi-dimensional entertainment venue. Additionally, Litz serves on the board of the Canadian Academy of Recording Artists (The JUNO Awards) and MusiCounts.
As the newest member of True North’s leadership team, Litz’s role as CBCO is to champion True North’s brand — taking on the challenge of advancing True North’s commercial strategy, integrating existing and new revenue, commercial, marketing, broadcast, digital, and brand functions currently being executed by a talented and experienced team at True North.
Litz returned home to Winnipeg with her husband Brad and their two children, Archer and Isla.
Sr. Vice President, Venues & Entertainment
As Sr. Vice President, Venues & Entertainment for True North Sports + Entertainment, Kevin Donnelly is responsible for managing Bell MTS Place as a facility and its event calendar. He transitioned to building and event management in 2001 after years of being a successful promoter, both independently and with House of Blues Concerts Canada. He has become an experienced resource in the entertainment industry, both in Winnipeg and across Canada. In April 2014, True North assumed operation of the 1,600 seat historic Burton Cummings Theatre.
Donnelly is a board member of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Economic Development Winnipeg. He also participates on the Advisory Board of the Venue Coalition, representing over 50 arenas across North America.
Sr. Vice President, Sales
After 20 years of progressive sales and leadership roles with a major Canadian brewery, Norva Riddell joined True North Sports + Entertainment as Vice President of Sales in the summer of 2004. In 2008, Riddell’s role changed to Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing as she continued to lead True North’s sales, marketing, and community operations during the various phases of the organization’s growth, including playing an integral role in the development and execution of the “Drive to 13,000” ticket campaign for the Winnipeg Jets. Riddell currently serves as Senior Vice President of Sales for True North, the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club and its subsidiaries. In this capacity, Riddell is responsible for providing leadership in the areas of corporate partnerships, ticket sales and operations, and premium services.
Riddell was recognized for her significant accomplishments in sales and marketing for the Manitoba Moose with the American Hockey League’s Ken McKenzie Award in 2008, and was a YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction nominee in 2017.
A life-long Manitoban, Riddell serves as a board member of the True North Youth Foundation and remains actively involved in the community along with her husband, Robert Duncan.
Vice President, Finance & Chief Financial Officer
Lorna Daniels joined True North as Senior Director, Finance in 2011 and was named to her current role of VP, Finance & CFO in June 2014. In her current role, Lorna is responsible for the oversight of budgeting, forecasting, financial reporting, internal controls, risk management, and reporting for the multiple stakeholders for True North Sports + Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club, and its various operating subsidiaries.
Lorna came to True North after working as a Senior Manager in the auditing department for the accounting firm KPMG in Winnipeg, where she obtained her Chartered Accountant designation. While at KPMG, Lorna was active in various training initiatives. Lorna, a lifetime Manitoban, attended the University of Manitoba earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Lorna actively participates in golf, hockey, and volleyball leagues throughout Winnipeg.
Vice President, Marketing
Dorian Morphy, a marketing graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business, has been involved with True North Sports + Entertainment since inception, joining the Manitoba Moose in 1996. In that time he has held a variety of leadership roles in the areas of ticket sales, marketing and ticket operations. Leading up to the announcement of the return of the NHL to Winnipeg in 2011, Dorian played a prominent role in the creation of the Drive to 13,000 season ticket drive. Later that summer, he led the process for the creation of the new Winnipeg Jets logos, jerseys and brand identity.
In his current role as Vice President, Marketing, Dorian is responsible for the advertising and marketing efforts for all True North brands, including the Winnipeg Jets, the Manitoba Moose and True North venues. He provides leadership in the areas of digital media, creative services, visual media, game production and broadcast, and oversees the development of True North’s retail operation, Jets Gear, which has grown to five locations and an online portal, truenorthshop.com.
Dorian volunteers his spare time coaching for the Bonivital Soccer Club. He and his wife Kim have two children, Kaitlyn and William.
Vice President & General Counsel
Dan Hursh joined True North Sports + Entertainment as Associate General Counsel in September 2011. He became the organization’s General Counsel in June 2014 before being named VP, AHL Operations & General Counsel in May 2015 when the Manitoba Moose returned to Winnipeg. Over three seasons, Hursh helped lead the successful reintroduction of Moose hockey to Winnipeg and oversaw all business matters pertaining to the Jets’ AHL affiliate.
In the summer of 2018, Hursh turned his focus exclusively to legal matters and other business initiatives pertaining to True North and its subsidiaries as VP & General Counsel.
Prior to joining True North, Hursh practiced law with a leading national law firm in Calgary, AB. Hursh earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science while playing four years of NCAA hockey at Princeton University and obtained his law degree from the University of Calgary.
Hursh also serves as a board member for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.
Vice President, Human Resources
Dawn Haus, a human resources (HR) professional with an appreciation for achieving results through a positive work environment is responsible for True North Sports + Entertainment’s HR Program. She leads and works with the human resource team to service permanent and part-time event employees while supporting and developing True North’s unique culture. Haus joined True North in 2014 from a local employee benefits and human resources consulting firm. During the course of her 15 years with the firm she held increasingly senior positions gaining an understanding of connecting human resource requirements to the direction of the organization. Haus served as a volunteer board member for the Canadian Institute of Management, Winnipeg Branch for five years and is a current member of the Downtown Winnipeg Biz Management Board and the Board of Directors for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. She is also a volunteer with the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society and active with her local community club as a volunteer coach.
Dawn earned the C.I.M. designation through CIM Chartered Managers Canada and is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR)
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Dawn continues to live here with her husband Chris and their two sons. She is an avid runner, practices yoga, enjoys all things outdoors including hiking, cycling, kayaking, water skiing and golf.
Vice President, Facilities Operations
Ed Meichsner is the Vice President, Facilities Operations for True North Sports + Entertainment. He joined True North just prior to the opening of the Bell MTS Place in 2004. With over 30 years of experience, Ed has led operations at True North and other large sporting facilities in the city. Proud of his involvement in planning and executing large scale events, Ed was an instrumental team member for the committees that brought the 1999 Pan Am and Grey Cup games to Winnipeg.
In addition to his experience in venues, Ed is committed to ensuring all True North patrons and employees have a safe experience at all our facilities. As chair of True North’s health and safety committee, Ed strives to educate our stakeholders about safety initiatives, and ensures our venues meet and exceed environmental and sustainability industry standards.
Ed is happily married to his wife Lynda. They have three kids Jack and Grace (twins), and another daughter, Olivia.
Vice President, Business Intelligence
Tyler Kurz joined True North Sports + Entertainment in 2018 as Vice President, Business Intelligence. Prior to joining True North, Tyler held several positions at Bell MTS over the past 15 years. Most recently, Tyler was the Director of Data & Analytics managing a team of data professionals supporting multiple stakeholders. Tyler brings his passion for data to True North, providing leadership in the areas of Business Intelligence and IT.
Tyler was born and raised in Winnipeg and attended the University of Manitoba, earning a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. Outside of work, when not spending time with his wife Lindsay and daughter Ruby, he enjoys playing hockey and golf, reading, and going to see live music.
Vice President, Ticket Sales & Operations
Linzy Jones joined True North in 2004 holding various roles in sales, customer service and ticketing leading to the return of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011 when he assumed the role of Director, Ticket Sales & Service. Jones was instrumental in the execution of the Drive to 13,000 campaign which saw Winnipeg Jets sell out of season seat holder packages in just seven minutes. In 2013 Jones coordinated the launch of the Winnipeg Jets loyalty program, Jets Rewards, and in 2018, as Sr. Director, Ticket Services & Operations, Jones managed the Jets’ transition to digital ticketing. Jones was named Vice President, Ticket Sales & Operations in 2019.
A life-long Winnipegger, Jones is a graduate of the University of Manitoba and also completed Robertson College’s Radio and Television Broadcasting program. Before joining True North Jones held roles in broadcasting and sales. He has volunteered his time as a soccer and basketball coach for more than 20 years and, along with wife Leanne, Jones continues to be involved in sports with his young daughters Livia, Eden and Paige. In his spare time, Jones enjoys golfing and singing.
Vice President, Guest Experience
Steinunn Parsons joined True North Sports + Entertainment in 2019 as Vice President, Guest Experience. Before joining True North, Steinunn began her career working at Rexall Place & Edmonton Expo Center as Guest Services Manager. She then took a series of term positions at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, London 2012 Olympics, and Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corporation. Most recently, Steinunn held the position of Assistant General Manager, Guest Experience & Events with the Oilers Entertainment Group, and supported the opening of Rogers Place.
Steinunn attended the University of Alberta, earning a degree in Recreation Administration and has supplemented her education with training in venue management, leadership and with the Disney Institute. Outside of work, when not spending time with her husband Andrew, Steinunn enjoys the outdoors, backcountry camping, hiking, and snowshoeing.
Vice President, Content and Communications
Kelly Shouldice was named Vice President, Content and Communications on June 1, 2022.
Shouldice is charged with using data and analytics to create and leverage communication and multi-platform content to grow fandom across priority customer segments and will have responsibility for telling True North’s community story through content and social media and while integrating and promoting True North’s vision, mission, strategy and values with our guests, employees, community and other stakeholders.
Shouldice has over 20 years of cross-platform content experience, using data-driven strategy to drive brand affinity. She began her career at MUCH as a Digital Content Creator before moving to producer roles in unscripted television. As Director of Original Programming with Corus Entertainments, she oversaw the commissioning and production of ratings-driven content and brand marketing initiatives for the broadcaster’s women and family platforms.
In 2016, Shouldice was part of the senior leadership team with the Canadian Football League, where she spearheaded an internal production agency, delivering strategic direction and data-driven marketing and communication programs. In addition, she worked closely with the CFL’s North American broadcasters and shopped the league’s broadcast rights internationally. Most recently, Shouldice was a member of the executive leadership team of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), where she provided strategic direction and guidance for overall business operations, including the 2022 Juno Awards.
Shouldice is a graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Radio And Television Arts program and recently obtained a Digital Marketing Strategies certificate from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
As a cross-disciplinary leader, Shouldice will work with True North’s talented content, media, social media and communications teams to develop and mobilize strategic goals to engage with fans with compelling stories and content and have a positive impact on the community.
Canada Life Centre
True North is proud to partner with Canada Life in a new strategic relationship that saw the home arena of the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose renamed to Canada Life Centre on July 1. The arena renaming represents a more public showing of the long-standing partnership between two organizations deeply committed to the Winnipeg community. Both have sought to be consistent sources of pride within the community and have storied histories and deep roots in the province. By teaming up for a 10-year partnership, both organizations seek to create even more positive change that will impact Winnipeggers and Manitobans. As one of the modern facilities in Winnipeg's growing sports, hospitality and entertainment district (SHED), Canada Life Centre is a 15,000-plus-seat multi-purpose sports and entertainment arena. Canada Life Centre boasts excellent sightlines from every seat, superb acoustics for concerts, and the best ambience and amenities for all kinds of sports such as NBA exhibition games, professional bull riding, Monster Jam, professional wrestling, and professional indoor soccer exhibitions, all which have played to audiences at Canada Life Centre. Winnipeg’s busiest entertainment venue can accommodate up to 17,000 concert-goers and can just as easily be curtained down to create an intimate concert setting for audiences as small as 2,500. During the 2020-21 season, Canada Life Centre achieved Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation. This represents a significant milestone for the venue amid the pandemic, as it signifies that the most stringent cleaning, disinfecting and infectious disease prevention protocols are in place to prevent and manage biorisk situations. GBAC STAR accreditation is the gold standard of measuring venues’ readiness to prevent and manage outbreaks and pandemics through best practice preparation and recovery protocols, and recognizes compliance with GBAC STAR’s 20 core elements that include operating procedures, risk assessment strategies, response measures and more. CanadaLifeCentre.ca Instagram & Facebook @canadalifecentre Twitter @CanadaLifeCtr
Canada Life Centre Upgrades
True North Sports + Entertainment strives to offer a superior guest experience at Canada Life Centre, constantly investing in renovations and upgrades. This year, Canada Life Centre added an on-ice projection display system that will revolutionize the fan experience and Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose hockey games. The projection system, consisting of eight laser projectors, and will provide hockey fans with a state-of-the-art, high resolution, and high brightness on-ice experience during games.
Restaurants and Lounges
Canada Life Centre provides many exciting food and beverage options to choose from such as Freshii, Gourmet Burger, Carvery & Melts, Aviator’s Grill, and much more. Guests can enjoy a variety of beverage selections at the contemporary bar locations on the main south concourse and upper west and north concourses. Located on the northeast corner of event level of Canada Life Centre, the Exchange Restaurant is a full-service and fully licensed restaurant, perfect for meeting a few friends prior to games and select events.
Budweiser King Club
The Budweiser King Club is a premium seating club lounge located at the north end of the lower bowl and including sections 124 to 127 and 223 to 228. The Budweiser King Club features exclusive "at your seat" bar and restaurant service and restrooms reserved just for those seated in the club section.
Bell MTS Iceplex
Bell MTS Iceplex is a 200,000-square-foot facility that serves as the official practice facility of the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose. It is also the home of the True North Youth Foundation’s (TNYF) Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy, which provides hockey programming to kids who otherwise couldn’t afford to play. Consisting of four NHL regulation size rinks and the Ice Lab, a dedicated goalie training centre, Bell MTS Iceplex provides between 11,000 and 13,000 hours of ice time annually to minor hockey associations, adult recreation leagues, tournaments, summer camps, casual rentals, the Jets, Moose, and to the TNYF in a typical year. Bell MTS Iceplex is also a year-round multipurpose facility featuring high performance fitness and training facilities, a full-service pro shop, licensed restaurant and lounge, and conference facilities. Bell MTS Iceplex has been recognized as a Hockey Canada Centre of Excellence. BellMTSIceplex.ca
The Ice Lab is an educational environment, focusing on the breakdown of goaltending movements, as well as making learning fun for everyone. The Ice Lab is 45 feet in length by 37 feet in width with five goalie creases. The facility is for all ages with training designed to take goalies to new heights of efficiency and effectiveness in net.
Focus Fitness is an 8,500-square-foot facility located on the upper level of Bell MTS Iceplex that features the latest in exercise and sports conditioning equipment. Focus Fitness prides itself on being the official gym training facility of the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose, as well as accommodating athletes from all sports and all levels of fitness and performance. Focus Fitness features treadmills, spin bikes, cable columns, free weights, Olympic lifting platforms and over 5,000 square feet of turf. Focus Fitness incorporates proven old school tools and methods like tractor tires, sleds, battle ropes and kettle balls to ensure athletes are challenged to improve their total body strength and overall conditioning. From developmental ages to the pros, Focus Fitness is the premier training facility for helping you reach your goals and become the best version of yourself.
The Press Box Restaurant & Sports Bar
The Press Box Restaurant & Sports Bar provides perfect above-the-action sightlines facing the Subway and Flynn ice sheets at Bell MTS Iceplex. With a licensed bar and full menu, the Press Box is a great place to take in the action and relive the memories after the games. In addition to restaurant services, the Press Box Restaurant & Sports Bar proudly caters functions from 10 to 500 people, specializing in team windups, holiday parties, birthday parties, fundraisers, and corporate events. From corporate to casual, the Press Box catering team will make any event a success.
Burton Cummings Theatre
Located on the edge of Winnipeg’s Exchange District is one of Canada’s most acclaimed live music and performance venues, the Burton Cummings Theatre for the Performing Arts. The theatre is named after the famed Winnipeg frontman of The Guess Who, Burton Cummings, and is now affectionately known as “the Burt”. It is an immediate draw with its unique appeal, both visually and sonically. The 1,581 reserved-seat theatre, both a National Historic Site of Canada and Provincial Heritage site, was built in 1906. True North Sports + Entertainment assumed management and operating control of the venue in 2014 and purchased it in 2016. Over the decades, the vaudeville era theatre has staged ballets, operas, and Broadway-style shows to now modern-day concerts and events. Offering a vintage, yet carefully maintained interior space that includes a 70’ vaulted ceiling and three levels of audience seating, the Burt provides an up-close and personal experience for both audiences and performers. In April 2017, True North, along with Burton Cummings himself, announced a 15-year extension of the theatre’s naming rights as well as a commitment from Cummings to perform a minimum of four concerts during this period, with proceeds going toward True North’s long-term investment into the theatre and to guest experiences at the Burt. To date, True North has invested over $1.2 million into the facility in addition to the countless hours of repairs and maintenance work by its crew of full-time venue professionals. Upgrades and renovations are ongoing, as the Burt is always striving to improve the experience for guests and artists. BurtonCummingsTheatre.ca
True North Square
True North Square is a transformative mixed-use development located kitty-corner to Canada Life Centre that will feature more than 1.5 million square feet of office, hotel, residential, retail, parking, and public plaza space in five towers, creating a new dynamic epicentre for Winnipeg's downtown. 242 Hargrave, a 17-storey office tower, opened in July 2018 and is currently home to lead tenants Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, Scotiabank, MNP, Ceridian, and SkiptheDishes. 225 Carlton is a 25-storey premium residential tower featuring 194 rental suites that welcomed its first residents in July 2019. The office portion of the residential tower, 223 Carlton, is home to Assiniboine Credit Union, a Liquor Mart, and, as of June 2021, True North Sports + Entertainment’s administrative offices. Phases two and three of the development is under construction and will include the Sutton Place Hotel & Residences located on Carlton Street, as well as the 24-storey tower that will serve as the North American headquarters for Manitoba-made insurance company Wawanesa. 242 Hargrave includes one of the most innovative spaces in Winnipeg’s food scene, Hargrave St. Market. Inspired by cutting-edge food halls located across North America and Europe, the locally focused and chef-driven offerings include a full-service restaurant, a microbrewery, six culinary concepts and a boutique grocery store. Gusto North, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, Yard Burger, The Good Fight Taco, Rose Bar, Saburo Kitchen, Miss Browns, Fools + Horses, and Mottola Grocery offer something for everyone at True North Square. TrueNorthSquare.com 225Carlton.com HargraveStMarket.com
True North Youth Foundation
The True North Youth Foundation (TNYF) is the charitable entity of True North Sports + Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets. The foundation primarily supports three core self-run programs: Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA), Camp Manitou, and Project 11. The foundation was established in October 1996 as the Manitoba Moose Yearling Foundation, which it remained until prior to the 2011-12 hockey season.
Major events that help to fund the TNYF include the Winnipeg Jets Gala Dinner, the annual Winnipeg Jets Skills Competition, the Mike Keane Celebrity Hockey Classic, and the Flatlanders Beer Festival. Since inception, True North's charitable efforts have raised and disbursed nearly $25 million. The contributions of every sponsor, donor, volunteer, employee, and partner resulted in the TNYF’s ability to positively impact more than 70,000 Manitoba youth last year.
Guided by the shared mission, strategy, and values of True North Sports + Entertainment, the TNYF operates under the direction of a committed team of employees in partnership with a dedicated board of directors.
Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy
The TNYF recognizes that challenges exist for many families to participate in the great game of hockey. The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA) was created (formerly Lil’ Moose) to provide children with the chance to play hockey while surrounded by their peers and positive role models. Participation barriers have been removed by providing programming staff, equipment, transportation, ice rentals, nutrition, and qualified on-ice instruction to all participants. Program extras include character development curriculum, tutoring, resume and job coaching, exposure to local post-secondary options and career opportunities, as well as field trips and guest speakers.
By providing children with an opportunity to experience the positive benefits of hockey, the foundation believes that students will have increased confidence to pursue their goals on and off the ice. The WJHA helps to encourage academic achievement and increase children's sense of belonging within their school community. WJHA students are shown to academically outperform the rest of their school population, which is an encouraging outcome that demonstrates the impact and value of this program.
With the COVID-19 pandemic making a large impact on programming in 2020 and 2021, the WJHA focused on keeping students engaged and connected. The inability to play hockey for much of the season resulted in hosting Zoom workouts three times a week and offering twice-weekly small group on-ice practices when gathering was permitted. WJHA staff also ramped up their academic support to meet the needs of student athletes this year. The program usually averages 300 hours of tutoring time per month, but over spring 2021 logged upwards of 1,000 and 1,500 virtual and in-person (as restrictions allowed) tutoring hours per month.
Over the years, full-circle benefits have been realized with WJHA students getting summer jobs at Camp Manitou and with TNYF partner organizations whose volunteers work closely with the program. The WJHA was proud to graduate 38 students this year who have journeyed through the program from elementary school. This milestone affirms the program’s long-standing vision of using hockey as a vehicle to help students engage in academics and ultimately graduate.
When weekly hockey programming is running, the program benefits from local businesses and organizations who have partnered with the WJHA to provide many volunteers and hours of service through its Living Philanthropy Program.
Project 11 honours the memory of Rick “Ryp” Rypien, who was a valuable member of the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Jets, and of the True North family.
Developed in collaboration with a variety of organizations and education and mental health experts, Project 11 is an engaging cross-curricular prevention program targeting Manitoba’s English Language Arts and Physical/Health Education outcomes. Using concepts such as practicing focusing the mind, increasing self-awareness of feelings and strengths, and building positive relationships, the goal of Project 11 is to help students develop positive coping skills to deal with the daily stressors of life while also enhancing their academic performance. Lessons and activities are designed to be easily adapted into teachers’ yearly plans.
The program is available for free to all Manitoba teachers of Grades K to 8 classrooms in both English and French. With increased focus on mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, participation grew immensely to include 451 Manitoba schools, 2,585 teachers, and over 64,000 Manitoba students. After beginning a two-year high school program pilot in 2020-21, Project 11 looks forward to making the program available to all grades in 2022-23.
In addition to beginning the senior years pilot, other highlights of the 2020-21 year included P11’s fourth annual Mental Wellness Summit – featuring several sports and celebrity guests sharing positivity and personal stories of mental strength and resiliency in three all-new age-tailored segments for for early, middle and senior years students – and the launch of the all-new Check In Podcast in the fall of 2020 as another way to encourage mental wellness conversations outside of the classroom. Co-hosted by P11’s Director of Educational Programs Suzi Friesen and local singer/songwriter and P11 ambassador Don Amero, each episode focuses on a mental health topic pertinent to P11’s programming and engages special guests in the conversation, including Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose players, local athletes, media personalities, and community members as well as wellness experts and advocates. The podcast is a complement to the senior years curriculum currently in pilot and is a meaningful wellness resource for any teen, parent or young adult.
Camp Manitou is an inclusive and accessible 39-acre four-season camp surrounded by nature and located just five minutes from Winnipeg in Headingley. Creative and innovative programming provides campers with adventure and learning that stimulates physical, social, and emotional growth.
Pandemic restrictions continued to impact programming into the 2020-21 season, but camp was able to proceed with a reduced capacity Spring Break Camp and the outdoor rink was able to accommodate small group WJHA minor hockey sessions as restrictions allowed.
Summer 2021 marked the second year of running reduced capacity day camp with added health and safety measures. After most Manitoba students transitioned to remote learning for the latter part of the 2020-21 school year, it was evident how much the camp experience meant to all campers and their families this year, as camp provided over 5,600 camper days this summer.
The TNYF has been operating Camp Manitou since January 2014 and has continued to invest in the grounds and amenities. In 2019, Camp Manitou launched a capital campaign to build on its commitment to the improvement and expansion of camp. Thanks to the generosity of donors over the past two years, camp was able to proceed with key campaign deliverables including the 2.6-acre custom-made lake which was completed this year as part of an 11-acre expansion. A boat house and dock will also be completed in fall 2021. The lake will host its first water activities for campers in summer 2022 but will first be put to use as the home of the first annual Ducky Pond Hockey Classic to be hosted Jan. 13 to 16, 2022. Progress also continued on the development of the mountain bike trails and BMX pump track over the past year. The 11-acre expansion will also be home to a beach volleyball court. The introduction of these new activities, along with the new lodge, the Travis Price Centre which opened in June 2020, will allow Camp Manitou to work toward doubling its day camp capacity to 400 campers per day over the coming years.
The True North Youth Foundation relies on a variety of fundraisers to reinvest into its own community programs as well as into other local non-profit organizations. The TNYF’s four primary fundraisers are:
Winnipeg Jets Gala Dinner
The Winnipeg Jets Gala Dinner is an unforgettable event for hockey enthusiasts and friends of the True North Youth Foundation. The dinner attracts professionals and corporations from both private and public sectors and includes a silent auction with the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime interactions with Winnipeg Jets players, among other unique prizes. After running a virtual version of the gala in 2020, this year’s gala will take place on Dec. 1, 2021 at Canada Life Centre.
Mike Keane Celebrity Hockey Classic
The Mike Keane Celebrity Hockey Classic allows rec hockey players to team up with former NHL greats to play hockey and raise funds for two great Manitoba causes. Proceeds from the event are shared between the True North Youth Foundation and Continuity Care. The event was unfortunately cancelled in 2021, but looks forward to a return March 9 and 10, 2022.
Flatlander's Beer Festival
Presented by Manitoba Liquor Marts, the Flatlander’s Beer Festival celebrates the art of beer and provides an opportunity for many different breweries to showcase their products to Manitobans, all in support of the True North Youth Foundation. The 2021 festival took a virtual format that saw Manitoba Liquor Marts selling various beer mixer packs, with virtual tastings available to participants.
A staple at all Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose home games, fans were able to continue buying 50/50 tickets online while watching the 2020-21 season from home. With online 50/50 ticket sales, fans are able to participate in 50/50 draws for both Jets home and away games.
Ducky Pond Hockey Classic presented by Canada Life
The Ducky Pond Hockey Classic presented by Canada Life will be a new annual fundraiser beginning in 2022. As part of a series of initiatives to honour the late and legendary Jets alumnus Dale Hawerchuk, Camp Manitou will host the four-day tournament on its brand new custom-made lake from Jan. 13 to 16. The tournament provides an opportunity to celebrate the roots of Canadian hockey and the special community that surrounds this great sport – something Hawerchuk would be proud to be associated with. The event is affiliated with the World Pond Hockey Classic and will see the winning team earn a berth in and trip to the Canadian tournament in Plaster Rock, N.B. Funds raised will be in support of the TNYF and Hawerchuk Strong.
Commitment to the Community
The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club participates in a variety of events every year that allow the organization and players to connect with our community. The team is active in the community by visiting schools, local hospitals and health centres through numerous player and team mascot appearances, and by maintaining an open and interactive relationship with the team's supportive and passionate fan base.
The Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose Community Relations teams brought creativity to their initiatives and fundraisers during a most unique 2020-21 NHL and AHL season. Though some events were not possible due to the pandemic, the Community Relations teams turned their focus to virtual platforms, using the teams’ websites and social media channels to spread awareness and raise funds for worthy causes and local organizations before being able to hold a few safe and social distanced in-person events in the spring of 2021.
In addition to supporting the True North Youth Foundation, True North Sports + Entertainment is proud to contribute to many worthwhile events and causes in our community through their own fundraisers or through donation packages that include jerseys, autographed memorabilia, team clothing, and specialty merchandise used in other organizations’ fundraising efforts.
Hockey Fights Cancer
Hockey Fights Cancer is a key initiative that the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club continues to support. Founded in 1998 by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association, the initiative raises money and awareness for cancer research institutions, children’s hospitals, player charities, and local cancer organizations. The campaign took a virtual format on the Jets platforms in 2020-21 that focused on sharing stories from our province and hockey community of those who have been impacted by cancer. Once the season was underway, the Jets donned specialty HFC warm-up jerseys which were auctioned off with other player-worn gear in support of CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, raising $14,675.
#HockeyTalks is a national public awareness campaign for NHL teams designed to encourage conversations about mental health and share support and information from leading experts in the hopes of alleviating some of the misconceptions and stigma associated with mental illness. The Jets 2021 campaign saw the team wear #HockeyTalks helmet decals during four January home games as well as share information and stories through digital platforms. As in past years, the team auctioned off player-worn Dry-FIT #HockeyTalks shirts to raise funds for the True North Youth Foundation’s Project 11 program, raising $800. Several players including Blake Wheeler, Nate Thompson, Nathan Beaulieu, Adam Lowry, Connor Hellebuyck, and Bryan Little added their voices to the conversation by joining videocalls with Project 11 students.
The Winnipeg Jets WASAC initiatives are the result of a long-standing relationship between True North Sports + Entertainment and WASAC (Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre) dating back to the days of the original Manitoba Moose franchise. The program is part of the NHL's "This is Hockey" initiative, which promotes diversity and inclusion in hockey and continues to grow each year – from the development of an Indigenized logo by local Cree artist Leticia Spence, a retail program and specially-designed warm-up jersey auction that invests back in to WASAC, to engaging Indigenous youth in attending the game and other special events.
Food Drive powered by SkiptheDishes
With the inability to collect non-perishable food items for their annual Winnipeg Jets Food Drive powered by SkiptheDishes in support of Harvest Manitoba, the Jets adapted their focus to monetary donations for much of the 2021 campaign. To give fans a chance to contribute food items, a drive-through drop-off event was held in the parking lot of Bell MTS Iceplex where donors could safely donate food. In total, $5,400 – equivalent to 16,200 pounds of food – was collected from the initiative.
Reading Takes Flight
The Winnipeg Jets' Reading Takes Flight program annually sees the team celebrate "I Love To Read" month with Manitoba students by joining them to read together. The 2021 school visits were done virtually this year for 12 lucky classes, giving schools from around Manitoba – including as far away as Churchill, Killarney, and Sprague – the chance to read and interact with Jets players.
Mick E. Moose
Mick E. Moose has always been an important member of the True North Sports + Entertainment family. Arriving in Winnipeg along with the Manitoba Moose in 1997, Mick E. has helped bring energy and excitement to live hockey games and community events all year long.
While Mick E.'s original jersey was retired in 2011 following the final season of the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets proudly called him up to the NHL for their inaugural season in 2011-12. Mick E. remains a popular addition to the gameday experience at Bell MTS Place and makes many community appearances at events across the province each year.
Read more about the team’s community commitment in True North’s 2020-21 Report to the Community.