The Western Hockey League and the Orange Shirt Society announced a new partnership on Thursday with initiatives to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.
Orange Shirt Day, formally called National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is a statutory holiday that will be held on Friday. The WHL says its commissioned a special WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo, designed by Métis artist Kim Vizi-Carmen of Pinerock Graphics that will be worn as a helmet decal by all WHL players and officials from Friday through to Oct. 9.
"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 toward reconciliation."
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. Those four directions are also representative of spirituality in its various forms — mental, emotional, and physical; as well as elders, parents, youth, and children.
There are also four stars across the top of the logo, which represent the four major junior hockey league's 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.
"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. “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 said it will also participate in the Orange Jersey Project in February.
That initiative was created by the Orange Shirt Society and it aims to use the power of sport to educate young athletes about the history of the Indian Residential school system and strengthen the path toward truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.