Grizzlies follow Raptors, PFC in acknowledging reconciliation efforts

The Victoria Grizzlies’ jersey for the team’s Indigenous Recognition game on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. VICTORIA GRIZZLIES

It is often said the best thing about sport is its ability to bring communities together. There is nothing like a big win or championship to cut through the mundane of the everyday and lift spirits in a city, region, province or nation. But sometimes sport can transcend mere wins and losses, as it did this weekend.

The Toronto Raptors coaching staff was all in orange, and orange shirts dotted the sold-out crowd of 7,000, for the NBA club’s training-camp scrimmage Friday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. A moment of silence was held before the scrimmage.

More than 4,000 fans watched Friday night at Starlight Stadium as Pacific FC warmed up in orange jerseys and then played their 1-0 Canadian Premier League soccer victory in their alternative third jerseys designed by Coast Salish artist Johnny Maynard Jr. Representatives from the Beecher Bay, Esquimalt, Tsartlip, Songhees and Cowichan nations took part in a powerful pre-game ceremony on the pitch, which included a moment of silence to commemorate Truth and Reconciliation Day.

The Victoria Grizzlies of the B.C. Hockey League have sold out their Indigenous Recognition game Sunday afternoon, at 2 p.m. in the Q Centre against the Langley Rivermen. The Grizzlies will play in orange jerseys designed by Eva George, whose design won a contest among Songhees artists, with the jerseys to be auctioned online until 5 p.m. Sunday.

The pre-game tailgate party outside the Q Centre will feature rap group YellowWolf, Barndawg with vocals from Addie E followed by the Lekwungen Dancers from the Songhees and Esquimalt nations, Young Wolves Dance Group from the Stz’uminus Nation of Ladysmith and Yellow Wolf Drummers from Tsartlip.

“The Grizzlies’ actions are true to the spirit of reconciliation, hand in hand with their belief that hockey is for everyone,” Songhees Chief Ron Sam said in a statement.

“They are demonstrating this by making scholarships available to Songhees youth, giving them the opportunity to get out on the ice. We look forward to our continued relationship.”

If Friday was a day of reflection and remembrance, Sunday is more about recognition and celebration at the Q Centre.

“It’s about recognizing Indigenous peoples, celebrating with them, and providing opportunities,” said Grizzlies president: Byron Loucks. “Our goal is to bring our communities closer together through hockey. The message that we want to present is one of reconciliation and community, not for just one game, but a culture that will now become entrenched in the Grizzlies hockey club, its players, and its staff. The Grizzlies believe that hockey is for everyone. This game is just the beginning of our commitment to move words to action making hockey available to all.”

Grizzlies players attended the South Island Powwow on Friday at Royal Athletic Park.

The Grizzles (0-1-1) were in Nanaimo on Saturday night to play the defending Coastal Conference-champion Clippers (2-1).

The Clippers players, meanwhile, took part in Truth and Reconciliation events Friday afternoon, including helping young Indigenous players in soccer drills. The Clippers also held a pre-game ceremony at Frank Crane Arena before Friday night’s 6-4 BCHL loss to the visiting Powell River Kings.