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By TN Staff | February 18, 2024

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Community support is a winning goal for True North

Article by D’Arcy Jenish, originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press

Kory Harnum considers himself privileged to spend many working hours doing what he calls “feel-good stuff” in his capacity as manager of community relations with True North Sports + Entertainment, the organization that owns and operates the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, among its more extensive business operations.

“It doesn’t always feel like a job in this position when you’re helping to create memories, fundraising and giving back to the community to make life better for people,” says Harnum.
Apart from that, there’s a collegial atmosphere that makes working for True North seem special. “One thing I always admire about this organization is the family feel,” he says. “When we’re not working, a lot of us are hanging out together – pulling together for our teams and our community makes us an even closer employee team and we share in many of those memories along with fans.”

The Jets are the organization’s signature brand but True North’s corporate portfolio comprises 10 diverse entities including the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, Canada Life Centre, the Burton Cummings Theatre, retail operation Jets Gear, the Jets’ multiplex practice facility hockey for all centre, the not-for-profit True North Youth Foundation (TNYF), and True North Real Estate Development.

“Our workforce is equally diverse,” says Dawn Haus, vice-president, people and culture. “We have the usual range of traditional business functions such as accounting, finance, legal, IT and analytics working to support hockey and all our brands. We also have creative teams who produce social, digital and advertising content.”

The organization promotes camaraderie by, among other things, organizing regular lunch-hour synergy sessions providing opportunities to learn more about the work of different departments.

“Everybody’s roles link together no matter how varied and this knowledge sharing bolsters collaboration and teamwork,” says Haus.

“True North is not a typical workplace,” says president and COO John Olfert. “It’s a dynamic environment with a heavy schedule of events and the show must always go on. Everyone has a role to play in ultimately driving the fan experience and with team and community foundational to our workplace culture, together we are relentless in making it the best possible.”

Besides delivering entertainment and professional sport, True North is equally committed to contributing to the communities it serves. “What makes the organization great is we’re passionate about supporting community and understanding the role we can play in the city and province,” says Harnum. “Our ownership has been passionate about that from day one and this commitment extends throughout the organization.”

The organization’s charitable arm, the TNYF, operates three unique programs – the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy, Project 11 and Camp Manitou – that support Manitoba youth with character and life skill-building programming and mental health education and awareness.

During Jets home games in the month of November, True North raised over $100,000 for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation by selling autographed merchandise. In December, fans were encouraged to donate toys to support local charities. The community relations team also organizes a number of events outside games, such as taking Jets and Moose players to hospitals, shelters and schools.

Harnum is directly involved in working with community partners to plan the many specialty games held during the season including cultural initiatives like WASAC Night recognizing Indigenous culture, South Asian Heritage Night, and Filipino Heritage Night.

“We layer in different aspects of these cultures for the whole community to enjoy with the goal of showcasing hockey as a sport that everyone can get involved with as either a player or a fan,” says Harnum. “Or maybe it even jolts an interest in learning more about making a career out of it.”

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