‘Every Child Matters’ Hitmen Hockey Game inspires and educates attendees

The Siksika Drummers performed during intermission at the fourth annual Every Child Matters Hitmen Hockey Game. Photo Kinnukana.

by Kinnukana, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – On Saturday, February 10th, the fourth annual Every Child Matters Hitmen Hockey Game took place at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, between the Calgary Hitmen and the Moose Jaw Warriors. The annual event is hosted by The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and Siksika Health Services along with presenting sponsors: Siksika Family Services Corporation, Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, First Nations Health Consortium and the Blackfoot Confederacy.

Dr. Tyler White, CEO Siksika Health Services.

The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and Siksika Health Services have a first of its kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that commits to working together to address stereotypes and racism by advancing inclusion in their communities through the promotion of the Blackfoot culture, language and history. A second key component is to promote healthy lifestyles for all youth and to highlight the benefits of participation in sport.

Dr. Tyler White, Chief Executive Officer, Siksika Health Services stated,  “It’s more than a business relationship. It’s more than a partnership, it’s a friendship based on respect, love and hope and all those wonderful things we are doing together. The foundation is culture and education. It’s a special relationship and it’s not lost on me the opportunity that we have. We are leaders in the Western Hockey League, and we are front-runners in our work together.”

The event serves as a platform to honour the resilience and strength of Indigenous peoples while also acknowledging the painful legacy of the residential school system. The event is a recognition and commitment to action to ensure that all children know their importance, and to honour those who attended Residential Schools in Canada, their families, and communities.

Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot.

In his opening comments, Chief Crowfoot, Siksika First Nation stated, “When it comes to the residential school system, it did a lot of damage to our people in all of Canada and it shifted the norm. People came out of the schools where molestation and other abuses were norms because of what they saw in those schools. As a result, we perpetuate that in our own communities today. …We have a lot of lateral violence in our Nations and bullying. When we talk about Every Child Matters, we need to fix home too.

“If we are going to talk about reconcili-action and Every Child Matters, we need to fix the toxic environment from the inside or else there will continue to be orange shirts, red dresses, half masses and games, but you won’t see any differences in statistics of overdoses, deaths, drug abuse, spousal abuse, all these negatives.” – Chief Crowfoot

The significance of the Every Child Matters event extends beyond the confines of the arena, as it serves as a catalyst for broader community engagement and dialogue. The game inspires fans, players, and stakeholders to take meaningful action in support of reconciliation and Indigenous rights.

Skylar Running Rabbit.

Young people from the Nation were featured throughout the event. Skylar Running Rabbit, Siksika Nation member, attended the game and provided opening comments. Skylar is a strong role model and lacrosse Player, attending school at Tompkins Cortland Community College in New York. Skylar said, “The theme of today’s event – inspiring hope, opportunity, pathway and empowerment, I like to think of myself as an embodiment of that symbol. I like to think that I give hope to other First Nations youth and athletes.

“I like to think that I provided them with an opportunity to see that there is something bigger and something to strive for, because I myself have failed and fallen, and I still have been able to find myself on the right path. I am hoping that with other youth athletes seeing myself and the path that I chose, it empowers them to make better life choices.” – Skylar Running Rabbit 

A number of ceremonies and activities took place throughout the game to commemorate the Blackfoot heritage and promote greater cultural understanding. There was an opportunity for event goers to visit the test kitchen hosted by Chris Eagle Rib for delicious Blackfoot food samplings: berry soup, Indian tacos, frybread hot dogs, and Indian popcorn. The crowd was also wowed by the Dancers and Drummers performing during intermission and they had an opportunity to participate in a round dance circling the entire rink. In the Concourse area there were also informative booths with resources for Indigenous families and the general public.

Thousands of people attended the event and many of them wore orange jerseys along with the Calgary Hitmen Hockey Team. The game uniform reflects both the look and spirit of Every Child Matters, and was developed by local Indigenous artists, Jacob Alexis, and Richard Running Rabbit. Mike Moore, Vice President, WHL Calgary Hitmen said a big thank you to Jacob at the event. Mike shared that “the uniforms are world famous, and we are proud to wear them each and every day. You see them at every Hitmen game, but most importantly today where our players wear them on the ice, and we get to represent the Blackfoot culture and the Every Child Matters Movement.”

The game was also broadcasted over the radio in the Blackfoot language on the Siksika Nations “The Nation’s Station” (104.7FM). This broadcast was hosted by Siksika Nation elders and knowledge keepers: Francis “Butch” Wolf Leg, Eldon Weasel Child and former Siksika Nation Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman. The deeply instilled cultural approach to this event will be remembered by many and will inspire others to remember that every child does matter.

Be the first to comment on "‘Every Child Matters’ Hitmen Hockey Game inspires and educates attendees"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.