New jerseys honour Indigenous communities
Maritime league sweaters show image of children outside a residential school, along with the phrase ‘Every Child Matters’
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.