They use hockey to nurture relationships and build a better future
Healing, forgiveness and strengthening bonds. These are the three pillars that bring the community of Siksika and Strathmore together.
And they do it through the power of sport.
The U13A Strathmore Storm ice hockey team was selected from 100 teams across Canada to play the Orange Jersey Project ice hockey game. The Storm played the U13A Indus Hurricanes on Saturday.
“It’s events like this that kind of give us hope… And it’s so special that it comes from youth; this comes from youth,” said Reuben Breaker, a Siksika Nation councilor who was there during the ceremonial puck drop.
“And that’s what makes it so unique.”
The project, initiated by the Orange Shirt Society, aims to inform, educate and connect with young people about the history of boarding schools. Players from the selected team had to take part in the “Truth and Reconciliation” training modules before the game.
This event, Breaker said, is especially sacred because the hope for a better future rests with the next generation.
truth and reconciliation
The number four for the storm wore center Kale Running Rabbit. He is one of two indigenous players on the team. Kale’s grandmother Josie was there as a dignitary and read a prayer before the puck dropped.
As a survivor in a dorm, the eldest says that to this day it pains her to witness the suffering of her classmates.
Though the past is over, she says she’s glad events like this bring current injustices to light.
“I’m really glad this uncovers some truths about what the indigenous people went through,” Running Rabbit said.
Driving past community playgrounds and ice rinks, Phil Temple often sees children from all backgrounds playing together.
“There is no hate, no racism. It’s taught at home,” he said. “We want to get rid of this stigma, this bad lesson of the generations, and move forward.”
He is on the board of Strathmore Minor Hockey and was instrumental in getting the Orange Jersey Feature Game up and running.
He said events like this are important to cement relationships and pave the way for a better future without hate. But he says there has to be a sequel to make a real difference.
“It’s a start, it’s an ongoing thing. You can’t just have one event and think it’s over,” Temple said. “It has to be continuous, it has to be taught … because if you forget it, like everything else, it gets swept under the rug.”