Toronto Star

New jerseys honour Indigenous communitie­s

Maritime league sweaters show image of children outside a residentia­l school, along with the phrase ‘Every Child Matters’

- DANIELLE EDWARDS

Players in the Maritime Junior Hockey League are donning specially designed jerseys to celebrate Indigenous groups in the country as a part of the organizati­on’s Week of Reconcilia­tion.

The league’s 12 teams will take turns sporting jerseys that have an image of children outside a residentia­l school, along with the phrase “Every Child Matters.” Each team will wear the jerseys, which also incorporat­e their logos, for one home game over the next two weeks.

League president Steve Dykeman said in an interview that the league’s governors agreed to honour Indigenous communitie­s after getting good feedback on a jersey project last year designed to celebrate front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were motivated, he added, by the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at residentia­l schools in the country that began earlier this year.

In May, a First Nation in Kamloops, B.C. announced they’d found what are believed to be the remains of 215 Indigenous children in unmarked graves at the site of a former residentia­l school. The following month, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchew­an revealed the discovery of more than 700 unmarked graves.

“We wanted to have some kind of recognitio­n,” Dykeman said. “The goal really is just about showing our respect and shining a light on what happened.”

Bob Gloade, chief of the Millbrook First Nation in Truro, N.S., called the jersey campaign a positive step.

“When you have Indigenous community members ... playing in the league and being a part of (the initiative), it’s very pleasing to see,” Gloade said in an interview. “I just look at it as a positive step forward and part of reconcilia­tion.”

Jersey designer Jeff Rector said that along with the “ominous” picture of a group of young Indigenous children gathered in front of Kamloops Indian Residentia­l School, the phrase “Every Child Matters” is written in English, Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqey, the main dialects of Indigenous communitie­s in the Maritimes.

 ?? THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? Each team will wear the jerseys for a home game over next two weeks.
THE CANADIAN PRESS Each team will wear the jerseys for a home game over next two weeks.

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