Beautiful Collisions

Others, Relationships , Stories

Contributed by: Inner City Youth Alive


A while back, a donor got in touch with me. He had four tickets to some of the best seats at a mid-season Jets game. Centre-ice, 11th row. Sight lines just above the glass. Most kids in the North End have never been to a Jets game. This was a big deal.

An ICYA team member knew exactly who we should take. Two brothers—growing up in close proximity to gang and family chaos. Lewin and his brother lived in the neighbourhood and had participated in ICYA programs—like The Bridge Drop-in—since they were very young.

When the four of us got to the Bell MTS Centre and found our seats, it was obvious—this was one of those “not in Kansas anymore” moments. We were surrounded by the folks in our city who could afford the best hockey seats that money can buy.

But Lewin didn’t seem at all aware of the way in which we stuck out. His attention was fixed on the ice.

Earlier, he’d made it clear that the night wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t get to see a fight. And he was going to do whatever he could to encourage that outcome. From the moment the puck dropped, he was the loudest in our section. A few times, his jostling of the seats around us made me brace for a reaction.

But the only reactions were smiles. And a few questions. A guy behind us—dressed head to toe in the latest and greatest Jets gear—nodded at Lewin and said, “He’s making it better for all of us!”

Finally, Lewin got what he came for. That big goon Getzlaf from the Ducks decided to take a shot at Ehlers. Lewin—convinced that justice was on our side—jumped out of his seat, screaming encouragement for our David to take down their Goliath. Most people in our section got more entertainment from Lewin’s outburst than they did from the fight!

But what was more entertaining to me was watching my co-worker— normally the one who pushes the envelope—cast in the role of responsible big brother. With a hand on Lewin’s shoulder, and lots of nervous glances over his own, he gently, but persistently, encouraged Lewin to “Take it easy man. Ok then. Chill man.”

At the end of the game, Scheifle scored the winning goal and we all went home happy. I think about that night often. There was Lewin—a kid from the Inner City—jumping, yelling and causing a scene beside some of the richest people in Winnipeg. And there were the richest people in Winnipeg— smiling at Lewin’s enthusiasm. Refreshed by his authenticity.

For me, that night was another example of what ICYA is at its core: a mish mash of unexpected, beautiful collisions. A place where people who might otherwise never meet get to know each other, become friends, and change each other for the better.