A Birthday to Remember

French or English, if you grew up in Quebec, you probably know Roch Carrier’s classic, The Hockey Sweater. Published in 1979, it’s the story of a boy forced to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in a small Quebec town that worships Les Canadiens. Anguish and horror ensue.

Fast forward to the tail end of 2019 and another gravely disappointed little boy. Jacob Bertrand refused to eat his birthday cake because instead of this:

A cake with his team’s logo on it.

He got this:

A cake with the logo of Maple Leaf Foods, a Canadian company that makes cold cuts.

Not the same thing at all. Not to Jacob, who in a family of Les Canadiens supporters, is a die-hard Maple Leaf fan.

While Roch’s story ends with the boy praying that moths would eat his jersey so he wouldn’t have to wear it anymore, Jacob’s story finishes on a much happier note.

Through social media, the Maple Leaf Foods company found out about the cake fiasco, and decided to do something about it. They sent Jacob and his family to a Maple Leafs game in Toronto.

Did Maple Leaf Foods get a lot of free press out of this? Yes.

They also gave Jacob a birthday to remember.

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Hockey, Eh?

You’re thinking the NHL,  or the local arena where you drink coffee early on a Saturday morning while your kids race after the puck.

Uh, yeah, but I’m thinking Kenya.

As in the Kenya Ice Lions. You know the guys from Africa? The ones who taught themselves to skate on the only ice in the whole country. The guys who don’t have a goalie or anyone to play against.

Well, we can’t have that. Can we, Canada?

No, we can’t.

So Tim Hortons did something about it. They flew the twelve member Kenya Ice Lions to Toronto to play a friendly game against the Mississauga Firefighters.

Kenya 1

Two Canadian NHL players, Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, showed up to help out.

And they weren’t the only ones who wanted to help the Ice Lions get a game in. Gary Mercer, the owner of a Toronto trucking company, pulled friends and family together, found a goalie (his son) for the Ice Lions, a rink in Etobicoke, and a referee.

As Gary says, “We take it for granted here, that you can grab a stick, find some ice, and play a game, but that’s not the always the case in other countries.”

True, and enough to make any Canadian weep.

Benard Azegere, Captain of the Ice Lions, is dreaming big. With the help of a Tim Hortons donation to fund a youth hockey league and new equipment from CCM, he’s thinking Olympics. “It may not happen this year, next year, but trust me, one day, … Kenya will play in the Olympics.”

hockey 2

And you thought we just exported wheat 🙂

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