Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference announced today that he will be marching in the Edmonton Pride parade on this Saturday (June 7), representing You Can Play, and marching along with the University of Alberta’s Camp fYrefly youth leadership program.
The partnership for the parade was reached as a result of You Can Play’s recent partnership with the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS), and is an extension of You Can Play’s partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL).
“We are grateful for Andrew’s relentless support for You Can Play and the ideals we work to instill in sports. Bringing professional athletes together with LGBTQ youth benefits everyone: the athletes, the young people, the University of Alberta, and the city of Edmonton. We look forward to celebrating inclusion and acceptance with everyone during Pride,” said Patrick Burke, president of You Can Play.
As captain of the Oilers, Ference has been a leader both on and off the ice during his 15-year career. In addition to spearheading an environmental program to help lead the NHL to carbon neutrality, Ference has been a strong supporter of You Can Play, and was involved in a fundraiser for You Can Play in Boston in 2013 while playing for the Boston Bruins.
“You Can Play has fundamentally changed the way the NHL players think and act. We understand the important role we can play in ending discrimination within sports and society and I feel honored to be able participate in events with them and Camp fYrefly including Edmonton’s Pride Parade. When we work, play and live together without discrimination it makes our entire community stronger and more productive,” said Ference.
Camp fYrefly is Canada’s largest and longest running leadership retreat for sexual and gender minority youth. Founded by iSMSS in 2004, the camp focuses on helping youth to develop their leadership potential and personal resiliency in an effort to empower them to become agents for positive social change in their schools, families, and communities.
“We are so very proud to partner with the You Can Play Project. Our goals and messages are the same. – ‘If you can play, you can play.’ – We want all young people to see their sexual orientation and gender identity not as their biggest obstacle to overcome in their lives, but as their greatest asset to achieve their hopes and dreams for the future. Our young people need allies, mentors, trusted adults, and role models to help break down the barriers of homophobia and transphobia that still exist in our society. We are thrilled to welcome Edmonton Oiler’s Captain Andrew Ference to our fYrefly team. His presence in Edmonton’s Pride Parade, marching alongside our young people, sends the powerful message that homophobia and Transphobia have no place in our locker rooms, schools, and communities. Real and impactful change happens when we are no longer afraid to speak out and stand up for the human and civil rights of others,” said Dr. Kristopher Wells, director of Programs & Services, iSMSS.
In February 2014, You Can Play announced an innovative partnership with the University of Alberta to help support research through the creation of a unique post-doctoral fellowship position at iSMSS, which is designed to help advance the public understanding of sexual and gender minorities in sports and society.
The Edmonton Pride Parade will begin at noon on Saturday, June 7, and is part of the Edmonton Pride Festival, which runs from Thursday, June 5 until Sunday, June 15th when it concludes with the 9th annual Mayor’s Pride Brunch in Support of Camp fYrefly, which features special appearances by Mayor Don Iveson, Premier Dave Hancock, Oiler’s Captain Andrew Ference and representatives from the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos.<p>
For more information, including a map of the parade route, please visit www.edmontonpride.ca.