Thanks to the inspiration and support of his grandfather, Sebastien, the 14-year-old Innu athlete will have his chance to live his dream and get back for his second year at the Canadian International Hockey Academy (CIHA).
Together, grandfather and grandson spent the weeks of August and the first week of September walking and sometimes running along the Trans-Labrador Highway that connects Churchill Falls to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay region of Labrador where the Benuen’s hometown of Sheshatshiu is located.
The goal of the 330-kilometre trek was to raise $50,000 to cover tuition and expenses for Aries so he could go back to Rockland for his second year of studies and training at the CIHA. At the end of their journey, late in the evening September 8, grandfather and grandson had raised $75,000. That amount has since risen past the $77,000 mark as of September 15 on the GoFundMe page set up for the fundraiser.
Aries Benuen has been passionate about hockey since he was a child, living with his grandparents. The family moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay so Aries could play in a better hockey program. Grandfather Sebastien even decided to move the family over to Québec to give his grandson a chance to play AAA hockey in that province. That was before Aries Benuen was accepted for his first year at CIHA.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, Sebastien Benuen, a small business owner, saw his business suffer like many others. But he wanted to help keep his grandson’s hockey dream alive and that resulted in the idea for their odyssey along the Trans-Labrador Highway to raise money for Aries’ second year at CIHA.
Their mission had the blessing and support of the Innu Nation, and now that it is over, the only thing left for Aries Benuen to do is rest up and get ready to go to Rockland when the academy opens up again for hockey students.