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Wakely wins CHL humanitarian of the year award

'I look at some of the past winners and the impact they’ve made on their community'
Dalyn Wakely wins CHL Humanitarian of the Year award announced at the Memorial Cup in Kamloops, B.C. on the weekend. Photo courtesy CHL Images.

The hockey world has recognized the charitable efforts done by a North Bay Battalion player. 

Dalyn Wakely of the North Bay Battalion was named Saturday as the winner of the Canadian Hockey League’s Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Wakely originated Wake’s Sake, which saw him and a rotating cast of teammates serve every Tuesday from November through the end of the Ontario Hockey League regular season at the Gathering Place, a community kitchen serving North Bay’s homeless and low-income populations. During the visits, Wakely and teammates prepared and served meals while building friendships across the community.

The Wake’s Sake initiative held monthly donation drives to benefit the underserved in the region, raising $2,100 in donations for the Gathering Place as well as more than 600 winter coats, 450 mitts and gloves, 400 hats and more than 2,000 hygiene products donated by Battalion fans at Memorial Gardens.

“It’s pretty special,” Wakely said of the CHL honour.

“I look at some of the past winners and the impact they’ve made on their community.”

Wakely, a centre and right winger who was a second-round pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection from the Quinte Red Devils minor midgets, says he feels the support from Battalion fans and the community. 

“I’ve been in North Bay for two years now, and the community has done so much, not only for me but the entire team," he said.  

"They’ve been so forthgiving, so that to be able to give back to them and people that need it there, I’m happy to do it and continue to do it next year.”

Wakely is a member of the nearby Curve Lake First Nation, and a resident of Port Hope, Ont. He said he’d like to broaden the Wake’s Sake program.

“I think it’s something I’m hoping to expand, whether it’s in Port Hope or wherever I’m going to be living. It was a great first year for Wake’s Sake in North Bay and just hope to continue to grow that.”

Wakely was named in April as the recipient of the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s Humanitarian of the Year, making him the league’s nominee at the level of the CHL, which announced its awards on the eve of the Memorial Cup championship game between the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Quebec Remparts and the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.

Wakely, who turned 19 on March 5, followed Nick Paul in 2014-15 as the second player in franchise history to win the Dan Snyder award. Wakely will be presented with the trophy at the OHL awards ceremony June 14 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Dennis Chippa, the Gathering Place executive director, has praised Wakely for his kindness.

“His project was amazing to give that education out to the general population," said Chippa.  

"We’ve seen a number of groups that have contacted us either donating items or donating money, and they’ve informed us that they had no idea we even existed and that they heard about us at the Battalion game.

“He showed a lot of leadership this season and even spent time educating others on mental health and addiction. Dalyn is surprisingly knowledgeable for a fellow his age on these concepts. He demonstrated a complete comfort level and a real understanding of the community that we serve.”

Wakely scored 30 goals and added 19 assists for 49 points in 66 games as the Battalion won a second consecutive Central Division title and advanced to the Eastern Conference final, losing in seven games to the Peterborough Petes. Wakely had a strong first OHL season in 2021-22, with 20 goals and 14 assists for 34 points in 67 games.