Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today a new partnership with the Orange Shirt Society, along with new initiatives to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.
Through this new partnership, the WHL will contribute to the goals of the Orange Shirt Society, including:
- Supporting Indian Residential School Reconciliation;
- Creating awareness of the individual, family, and community intergenerational impacts of the Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Society activities, and;
- Creating awareness of the concept of “Every Child Matters.”
“This partnership will help raise awareness and education about the impacts of residential schools,” said Phyllis Webstad, Founder of Orange Shirt Day and Ambassador for the Orange Shirt Society. “It is also building a bridge and creating relationships between the WHL and Indigenous communities – an important step towards Reconciliation.”
As a part of the WHL’s commitment to supporting the purposes of the Orange Shirt Society, the WHL has commissioned a special WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo, designed by Métis artist Kim Vizi-Carmen of Pinerock Graphics.
Additionally, during February 2023, the WHL will be participating in the Orange Jersey Project – an initiative created by the Orange Shirt Society aimed at using the power of sport to serve as a vehicle toward educating today’s young athletes about the history of the Indian Residential school system and strengthening the path toward truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
From Friday, September 30 through Sunday, October 9, WHL players and WHL Officials will wear the WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo in the form of a helmet decal to generate awareness of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30). WHL fans are also encouraged to wear orange during this period of time to show their support.
“In support of the WHL’s ongoing commitment to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I am proud to share this visual image for the helmet decal,” said Vizi-Carmen, Métis graphic designer with Pinerock Graphics. “The image is meant to honour survivors and communities by incorporating meaningful elements that represent the land, the strength of its peoples, and the greater spirit within us all.”
The WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo features the WHL logo anchored by the traditional Medicine Wheel, which represents the four directions of North, East, South, and West; spirituality in its various forms – mental, emotional, and physical; as well as our elders, parents, youth, and children.
Traditionally, stars act as our guide or a compass to provide direction. The four stars depicted above the WHL logo incorporate this while also representing the four divisions – East, Central, B.C. and U.S. – along with the players and talent of the WHL.
The top of the WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo features two feathers representing honesty, truth and wisdom. At the base of the logo are antlers representing courage and strength. Where the antlers meet one will find the sun and the moon. The inclusion of the sun brings warmth, healing, and peace, while the moon serves as our protector, guardian spirit, and transformation.
Ultimately, the WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo provides guidance in practical endeavours as well as a spiritual identity.
“The WHL is proud to partner with the Orange Shirt Society to create awareness of the individual, family, and community intergenerational impacts of the residential school system,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “As we journey towards Truth and Reconciliation, all Canadians have a responsibility to educate themselves further on the deep trauma that continues to inflict pain upon generations of people to this day.”
September 30, 2022 serves as the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is key within the reconciliation process.
On June 3, 2021, the Government of Canada created this federal statutory holiday to commemorate the legacy of residential schools. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours Call to Action #80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation represents an opportunity for all Canadians to listen and learn from Indigenous leaders, elders, artists, and knowledge keepers about their perspectives and experiences. All Canadians have a role to play in the experience of reconciliation.
One of the first steps Canadians can take on the journey towards reconciliation is to educate themselves by reading the 94 Calls to Action identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Since the closure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has confirmed that over 4,100 individuals were lost to the residential school system.
SUPPORT: If you are a Survivor of or family member impacted by the residential school system and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419
About the Orange Shirt Society
The Orange Shirt Society was formed in Williams Lake by the founders of Orange Shirt Day to encourage and support communities to recognize Orange Shirt Day and to support reconciliation events and activities. Our goal is to create awareness of the individual, family, and community intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Day activities, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters.”
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.