Guelph Storm players wore commemorative jerseys to support Indigenous healing on Friday’s Hand-Up For Healing hockey game.
The jerseys feature artwork by Stephen Jackson, CEO of Anishnabeg Outreach Centre for Indigenous Healing.
“For me, this is a special game,” Jackson said.
Wearing one of the commemorative jerseys and gesturing to his art, he said “this is the bear, of course,which means courage. It’s one of the Grandfather Teachings.”
Anishinaabe people follow Seven Grandfather Teachings: love, respect, bravery, truth, honesty, humility, and wisdom.
Mike O’day Ziibing Ashkewe is a Chippewas of Nawash Ojibway (Anishinaabe) freelance journalist and community content creator who covers the Guelph Storm.
O’day Ziibing Ashkewe said it is meaningful to him for the Storm players to wear jerseys with this bear artwork, particularly in February, as February is the Bear Moon and the Moon of Creation.
Many Indigenous Nations, including Anishinaabe people, follow Thirteen Grandmother Moon Teachings that encompass the cultural and spiritual significance of each month’s moon cycle.
When the Storm scored their seventh goal against the Sault Saint Marie, one fan said they should wear the jerseys every game as they seem to be lucky.
Guelph Storm won the game 7 to 3.
The jerseys were auctioned off after the game to fundraise for Anishnabeg Outreach’s new program for mental health and healing.
Jackson said the Hand-Up For Healing game, presented in partnership with the Neighbourhood Group of Companies, is an example of what reconciliation is all about.
“It’s about partnering to create a better outcome. Synergy, in other words.”
The Neighbourhood Group of Companies represents local restaurants (Borealis, Miijidaa Cafe, and the Woolwich Arrow Pub). They support a range of fundraisers in the community.
Jackson and Court Desautels, CEO of the Neighbourhood Group of Companies, went down to the ice before the game for a ceremonial puck drop.
O’day Ziibing Ashkewe is happy with the ways the Guelph Storm practices truth and reconciliation, including by beginning every game with a land acknowledgement.
He said the Hand-Up For Healing game shows that the Guelph Storm want to “further the conversation locally to make things better here in the city of Guelph for each and every person that is involved.”
“I really think the Guelph Storm and AO found a tremendous partner in each other and I really hope this collaboration continues for many years to come.”
The total amount raised at the game has not been released to “focus more on the potential partnerships and raising awareness for our helping Indigenous people with mental health and healing challenges,” Jackson said.
“We feel this game was a fabulous platform for raising awareness for the work we do to support Indigenous people.”
Stephen Jackson and Court Desautels drop the puck together to start the Hand-Up For Healing hockey game. Photo from Anishnabeg Outreach’s Facebook.