The Edmonton Oilers have teamed up with Pride Tape, an initiaitive by the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta to encourage young queer players to join hockey.
Pride Tape is a badge of support from the teammates, coaches, parents and pros to young LGBTQ players. It shows every player that they belong on the ice. That we're all on the same team. And we need your help to make it a reality.
When Pride Tape is up and running, proceeds will support LGBTQ youth outreach initiatives, such as You Can Play and the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services. That means every roll of tape will make an impact on and off the ice.
The Oilers were the first NHL team to use Pride Tape--they played with their rainbow sticks on Sunday during their annual Skills Competition at Rexall Place.
Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference said that he and his teammates are all "proud to play for a team and city that supports diversity and human rights."
For Ference, however, Pride Tape and what it stands for is more personal. Growing up he had a friend who quit hockey because he was gay and didn't feel comfortable in the locker room.
"It's something that means a lot to me, knowing that you've had friends who were directly affected," Ference told Metro News.
"This conversation wouldn't have happened when I started playing hockey," he added. "We know that trickle down effect will happen to the younger kids playing the same sport,"
The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) also donated $8,000 to become a founding partner of Pride Tape, which has surpassed its fundraising goal. Pride Tape will use the funds to create an initial run of 10,000 rolls of tape, with plans to expand to as many teams as possible, as well as to other sports.