P.E.I. hockey team dons new ‘Every Child Matters’ jersey during Lennox Island visit

P.E.I.’s Summerside Western Capitals were on Lennox Island on Wednesday, displaying their new orange and white jerseys that are meant to raise awareness about Indigenous reconciliation.

The Caps visited the First Nation to receive education on Indigenous history, meet the community’s children and hand out tickets to Saturday night’s game, which members of P.E.I.’s Indigenous community will be able to spectate for free.

On Tuesday, the Maritime Junior Hockey League unveiled the new jerseys, meant to promote the path toward reconciliation between Canada and its Indigenous people.

Saturday’s game against New Brunswick’s Edmundston Blizzard will be the first time the Caps will wear the jersey on ice.

“Throughout the week, we’re doing an ‘Every Child Matters’ game in all 12 venues throughout the Maritime Hockey League,” said Pat McIver, the team’s general manager.

“For us to be able to do this and maybe bring some exposure to it, we’re very happy to do that.” 

Sam Dow, a 19-year-old defenseman for the Caps, said it’s important as hockey players to learn about Indigenous history, and be open to hearing their stories.

“A lot of people know the story, but we’re trying to get educated as much as we can on it to help support everyone,” said Dow.

Defenseman Sam Dow said he’s “super happy” to be wearing orange. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Proud to wear orange

The jerseys were created in consultation with Indigenous leaders. They feature a photo of residential school survivors and a heart-shaped crest that says “Every Child Matters.”

The phrase “Every Child Matters” is also translated to Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqey on the jersey’s shoulders, sleeves and on a black stripe that runs along the bottom.

The jerseys will be put up for auction after the game, with a portion of the proceedings going to the Indigenous community.

“It’s for a good cause. Hopefully we get a good crowd and show them properly,” Dow said. “I’m happy to wear it. Super happy to wear everything that goes along with the orange.”

11-year-old Xavier Bernard said he was honoured by the team’s visit. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

McIver said 1,500 to 2,000 people could be watching Saturday’s game.

He said he was encouraged to see a lot of young hockey fans during the team’s visit to the island.

“A lot of kids here today say they do play hockey,” McIver said. “You just never know down the road — the next Western Capital could be right here in Lennox Island.”

Xavier Bernard, a sixth-grader who plays for the Tyne Valley Tornadoes, said he felt the visit was “very honouring.”

He said he’ll be attending Saturday’s game with his dad, if it doesn’t conflict with his own hockey game this week.

“I hope that it’s not on Saturday, so we can go to the game,” Bernard said.

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