The Calgary Hitmen are partnering with Siksika Health Services, the Blackfoot Confederacy, and the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary to host their fourth annual Every Child Matters hockey game.
This year’s Every Child Matters hockey game theme is Hope. Hope, Opportunity, Pathway, and Empowerment, with a particular focus on youth.
“There isn’t a day that we don’t share with Siksika Nation and our other seven nations that surround us that we don’t learn, and that is the essence of this relationship, this game, this partnership, and this friendship,” said Mike Moore, Calgary Hitmen vice president.
Moore explained that they learn, daily they are educated, but more importantly, through this game, they are enabled to educate their fans as well.
"We understand and recognize the problems and the challenges. We want to take hope and now find a pathway forward with that hope, without the understanding and the partnership and the acknowledgment and acceptance of what we do, it does not happen.”
Siksika Health Services CEO, Tyler White described the game and the partnership between Siksika Health Services and the Calgary Hitmen as much more than just a hockey game.
"It is a friendship, and that goes throughout our friends within the Calgary Hitmen. I am just so honored, and what we have created over the years, is very special. It is the first of its kind in many ways, the memorandum of understanding we signed in 2021 outlined our shared commitment to several important goals, including addressing stereotypes and racism, promoting the Blackfoot culture, and advocating for healthy lifestyles for all youth through participation in sports.”
It was stated that youth from Siksika Nation and the Calgary Hitmen team will be featured in the lead-up to, and throughout the event, showcasing their remarkable strength and skills. Together we can create and support a hopeful future for the young people.
For the Every Child Matters hockey game, the Hitmen will be wearing their orange jerseys.
In this case, the spirit and intent were realized by a partnership of local Indigenous artists: Richard Running Rabbit, Siksika Recreation & Parks Lead, and his friend, Jacob Alexis.
“It’s totally different working with a First Nations graphic artist because you don’t have to explain the concept,” Running Rabbit explained.
Many concepts went into this – many – according to Siksika Health Services’ CEO, Dr. Tyler White, who initiated the process and asked Richard to start putting concepts together.
White says this took some time, as Richard was so deep into research he had come back to White with “12 mockups”. These were eventually whittled down to a select few, it stated on the Sisika Health website.
“Richard came to me with some archived material of Blackfoot quillwork as a reference piece,” Alexis says. From there it was a step-by-step process bringing the idea to life. “I researched old tipi art in the style of the area.”
Dancers and drummers will be featured and performing throughout the game, and attendees will also be invited to a test kitchen, where they will have an opportunity to try traditional First Nations foods.
The Every Child Matters hockey game will take place at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 2:00 p.m. on February 10 between the Calgary Hitmen and the Moose Jaw Warriors.
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