The Prince Albert Raiders will be wearing some new threads in honor of Truth and Reconciliation Day when they take on the Edmonton Oil Kings on Oct. 1 at the Art Hauser Centre.
The team revealed the new jerseys at a press conference at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday. Various parts of the orange-coloured jerseys take inspiration from First Nations culture and were partly designed by Anthony Masuskapoe of the Ahtahkakoop First Nation with the help of Jim Stonechild and Brad Tinker. Masuskapoe says it means a lot to him to have his art recognized.
“I’ve been doing art my entire life. To see all my hard work be appreciated at this kind of level, all this attention to something I’ve created means everything.”
Aspects on the jersey influenced by First Nation culture include bear claw markings around the neck. The bear is a symbol for power, courage, physical strength and leadership. Eagle feather markings adorn the sleeves of the uniform. In many Indigenous cultures, the eagle is believed to be sacred because it flies closest to the Creator. The eagle also symbolizes respect, honour, strength, courage and wisdom.
There were several Raider players on hand to model the jerseys Thursday. Raider forward Dallyn Peekeekoot is a member of the Ahtahkakoop First Nation. He says wearing the jersey makes him feel like a superhero.
“It’s like wearing a super cape, like Superman. It’s awesome. The artist [Anthony] did an awesome job and it’s so nice to wear it and represent a big matter in today’s society.”
As an Indigenous person, Peekeekoot says it’s extra meaningful to don the Truth and Reconciliation Day themed uniforms.
“It’s like a dream come true almost. Getting to wear something like this being First Nation. I think it’s something that I’ve been looking forward to. You dream of stuff like this as kid and to see it come true, you’re starstruck.”
Prince Albert is not the first WHL team to wear jerseys based on Truth and Reconciliation Day. Last season, the Calgary Hitmen wore orange uniforms in honour of the day. Raiders business manager Michael Scissons says it is important for the team to recognize the community it plays in.
“We’re blessed to live and work in a community of many cultures, including the Indigenous cultures. We just came back from a few days up in Big River First Nation. It’s important for our players and organization to understand where we play and the people we play in front of and the people that support us. It’s an incredible honour to do this for the community.”
Following the Oct. 1 game, the orange jerseys will be auctioned off with the proceeds being used to fund Indigenous sports and programming within Prince Albert.
The Prince Albert Raiders open the 2022-2023 WHL season on Sept. 23 against the Saskatoon Blades at the Art Hauser Centre.