First Nations artists design ice hockey sticks for world junior champs

By Kelvin McDonald
Credit: Samaqani Cocahq (Natalie Sappier) Facebook / APTN

Four Canadian First Nations artists have designed one-of-a-kind ice hockey sticks for the World Junior Hockey Championship which wrapped up in Nova Scotia this week.

The annual international tournament for under-20 hockey teams was an opportunity for the artists to have their artwork viewed by millions of people.

“It’s exciting. It’s an honour. It’s a special time to just be part of this,” Mi’kmaq artist Lorne Julien told First Nations broadcaster APTN.

Hockey Canada and Mawi’Art, an indigenous Wabanaki artist collective, partnered to find artists from the host provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as a way to showcase local Indigenous talent.

The artists chosen to design the hockey sticks were Lorne Julien, Emma Hassencahl-Perley, Robin Jipjaweg Paul and Natalie Sappier (Samaqani Cocahq).  

Hockey sticks are customarily presented at the end of every game to the person from each team chosen as the player of the game.

Each artist was tasked with creating 20 sticks.

Mi’kmaq artist Lorne Julien with the hockey sticks he designed.  Source / APTN

Julien told APTN he put 100 hours of work into painting his design, a double-curve motif with an eagle in flight.

He said the eagle is representative of love and protection, which are principles of the Seven Sacred Teachings.

His design also featured an orange heart in honour of the suspected unmarked graves at former residential schools.

“I think that’s important that that’s remembered,” Julien said, “and I think it gives the general public a better understanding as well.”

The tournament gold medal was won by Canada who beat Czechia 3-2 in overtime.