The La Ronge Ice Wolves Hockey Club raised more than $10,000 by auctioning orange jerseys that players wore in honour of truth and reconciliation.
It all started when Ice Wolves coach Kevin “killer” Kaminsky approached the board in July looking for a way to contribute in light of unmarked graves being uncovered throughout Canada.
La Ronge Ice Wolves secretary Marlee Proulx said the team wanted to use its platform in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) as a “way to bring awareness to the residential schools, as well as to move forward reconciliation.”
They decided on wearing orange jerseys to showcase the connection between hockey and reconciliation in Canada.
“Here in Northern Saskatchewan, we have such a rich history. Hockey does so much for our youth, our vulnerable population and our at-risk population. It provides them some of that stability, that support and those role models. Now we’re providing a little bit of education as well,” Proulx said.
“We looked at the platform that we have as representatives of northern Saskatchewan. We talked about how we welcome all of our opponents to Treaty Six territory and the homeland of the Metis.
“We purchased orange jerseys, orange tape, and 36 reconciliation flags to hang in Mel Hegland Uniplex. We did a powwow with Northlands College, connected with an Elder there, did some smudging and a little bit of ceremony. So that was great.”
Supporters placed their bids on the jerseys in an online auction that closed on October 29. Proceeds will go to support an Indian Residential School survivors’ program in La Ronge that will be officially announced at an upcoming hockey game.
Beyond that Proulx said players will continue to foster special connections with the communities where their jerseys ended up.
“We had a great response. The jerseys have gone all over different parts of Saskatchewan and Canada. One couple purchased a jersey and donated it to Churchill Community High School. So that was beautiful,” Proulx said.
“In Sucker River the player who wore the jersey is going to do an attendance incentive draw for the school. So that’s really great.”
The team planned to wear their orange hockey jerseys during a special game on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in La Ronge but their shipment didn’t arrive on time for the game.
The team instead wore the jerseys at away games in Kindersley and North Battleford and then at a home game in La Ronge.
“You can be an ally to Indigenous peoples by participating in events like this by taking time to learn a little bit about the history or just even being present while some of these kinds of events are going on,” Proulx said.
“Everybody has a part to play in reconciliation, and hockey is so much more than just a game.”