CFL to acknowledge children, families victimized by residential schools system

People stand on Parliament Hill alongside a memorial for children who died at Indian Residential Schools, during a rally to demand an independent investigation into Canada's crimes against Indigenous Peoples, in Ottawa on Saturday, July 31, 2021. (Justin Tang / CP)

TORONTO — The CFL will acknowledge the children and families victimized by Canada's residential schools system during the opening week of the '21 season.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks will all acknowledge the tragedy as they host home games Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Officials working the games will wear orange pins in recognition of the Every Child Matters movement.

This initiative is being led by CFL field judge Brian Chrupalo, an Indigenous police officer in Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Professional Football Officials Association.

The CFL also plans to virtually place the Every Child Matters logo on fields during games.

"The suffering of these families — and the trauma each discovery triggers for Indigenous people across the country — reminds us all that Canada's story includes racism, colonialism and extreme cruelty,'' CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement.

"Our clubs, working with Indigenous communities, want to acknowledge the pain and injustice imposed upon First Nations, Metis and Inuit and recognize that there is much more to be done.''

CFL clubs are also planning acknowledgments to take place closer to Sept. 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a federal statutory holiday created to provide an opportunity to commemorate and recognize the legacy of residential schools.

The CFL kicks off the '21 season in Winnipeg with the Blue Bombers hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The league didn't play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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