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Canucks celebrate autism acceptance this Sunday!

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March 31, 2023

As we get ready to celebrate World Autism Day, the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) community will take centre stage as the Canucks take on the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow evening.

📅 Sun, Apr 2, 5pm  📺 Sportsnet Pacific  📻 Sportsnet 650

Since 2008, the Vancouver Canucks and Canucks For Kids Fund have been our biggest supporters. It was 15 years ago that CAN was founded by Paolo and Clara Aquilini, whose son Christian is on the autism spectrum.

In our earlier years, we focused on providing sports & rec opportunities for children. Since then, we’ve grown up alongside our participants to offer a range of employment, mental health & leisure programs for Autistic youth & adults, as well. Beyond our programs, CAN’s training initiatives seek to increase capacity to support and include Autistic individuals across community spaces.

Sunday afternoon will be a celebration of inclusion & acceptance, featuring a number of children & adults on the autism spectrum:

  • PA announcer Ryan Chilton will be back at the mic.
  • Professional singer Miriah Reitmeier will perform both national anthems.
  • CAN hockey players Gavin, Ben & Makayla will be featured at ice level as part of the Rogers Every Kid’s Dream & Toyota Junior Trainer programs.

Ryan Chilton, Miriah Reitmeier with Daniel Sedin and Nish Lal with Christian Aquilini

Ryan is an adult on the spectrum who originally co-emceed our 2014 CAN Sports Day with the “voice of the Canucks” – Al Murdoch. Since then, Ryan’s skills have flourished and he is currently the official PA announcer for the BCHL Coquitlam Express.

Based out of Surrey, Miriah Reitmeier is a professional singer who has previously sang the anthem at the Canucks’ Autism Acceptance Game in 2011 and CAN Sports Day in 2014.

“As a singer living with autism, I want to inspire others in the autism community to pursue their dreams and passions in the performing arts.” -Miriah

Meanwhile, Gavin, Ben and Makayla are all athletes on the autism spectrum who have honed their skills in the CAN hockey program.

The afternoon will also feature a range of individuals from the CAN community who have been instrumental in our participants’ successes.

Nish Lal is a longtime CAN program staff who was one of our very first volunteers back in 2008. With unparalleled enthusiasm and genuine care for each participant he encounters, he is recognized by the CAN community across the Lower Mainland. Tomorrow afternoon, he will be cranking the BCLC Community Hero siren.

CAN CEO Britt Andersen will be interviewed on both the Sportsnet Pacific telecast and the Sportsnet 650 airwaves during intermission. Meanwhile, CAN Director of Marketing & Communications Lindsay Petrie will speak about the cause during an in-game interview broadcasted on the jumbotron.

See highlights from the 2022 game:

In addition to featuring CAN, the Canucks continue to offer accessibility resources to any fans who may benefit.

In 2019, Rogers Arena became the first Canadian NHL stadium to introduce comprehensive autism accessibility resources for all games and events.

These include noise-cancelling headphones (on loan), sensory toys and a quiet room available upon request. For Canucks games specifically, fans can also benefit from an activity storybook and game timeline to increase expectations on the game day experience.

For full details, please visit the Canucks’ autism accessibility page.

Looking for ways to support the cause through the game?

  • Proceeds from Canucks 50/50 benefit CAN & a range of other deserving charities.
    Fans can buy tickets in-game and online.
  • Or make a donation directly to CAN!
    Visit canucksautism.ca/donate.

A huge thank you to entire Canucks organization for celebrating autism acceptance and for supporting the cause year-round. It is because of them that we can continue our work across BC and beyond.

Further reading

4th annual CAN Pro-Am shatters fundraising record

Breaking barriers: From CAN to Chilliwack Minor Hockey

RECAP: Canucks showcase autism acceptance in annual celebration

Coquitlam Express welcome hundreds in the stands & on the ice

CAN & Sport Surrey give hockey participants a day to remember