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Maple Leafs and Marlies will host Indigenous Celebration Games

This Saturday and Sunday.

National Aboriginal Day and Indigenous Arts Festival
A collaborative painting installation. National Aboriginal Day and Indigenous Arts Festival at Fort York in Toronto. June 21, 2017.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

On January 7 and 8 first the Leafs and then the Marlies will host Indigenous Celebration Games.

The Leafs game will feature a special warmup jersey designed by Tyler Rushnell, introduced below:

The Leafs will auction the jerseys through Real Sports with 100% of the proceeds going to Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre.

There will be dance and drum performances incorporated into the game intermissions with an special DJ for the event. The concourse is going to feature some food and drink from special concessions, and the club patrons (yes the people in the Platinum Club seats) get a special creation of chef Paul Owl.

Dashmaawaan Bemadzinjin will also have some food offerings at the Marlies game if Platinums are out of your price range.

Tyler Tabobondung Rushnell

The artist behind this event, the jersey and other artwork is from the Beaver clan of Wasauksing First Nation. His Instagram will give you a good look at his style and influences:

There’s pop art — the Warhol inspired beaver soup is very clever. There’s other forms of pop art, and woodland style, a form of Ojibway or Anishinaabe art. This is a good, short explainer on the style:

In this initial teaser art, you can see the woodland style in the colours, the choice of decoration, and the floral symbols, some of which come from traditional beadwork.

This video gives you another preview of the logo and jersey design:

More on Tyler Rushnell:

His paintings are inspired by the woodland style that he was introduced to at Trenton High in art class. “I took a great liking to it. I felt it was right for me one day to start doing woodland style because then I was finding myself as an Indigenous person and had something that gave me strength and a bit more identity.”

Rushnell is creating his own signature, unique style with bright colours, images full of nature, symbolism and the message of the sacred relationship between nature and humanity.

The Leafs explained the meaning of the art this way:

“Animkiig (‘Thunderbirds’) are among the most powerful spiritual beings in Anishinaabe (‘Ojibwe) cosmology. They maintain a special, protective relationship to Anishinaabeg (the Anishinaabe people). Although they are invisible forces, Animkiig reveal themselves through stories. The Thunderbird is also a legendary creature in certain North American Indigenous People’s History and Culture. It is considered a Supernatural being of Power and Strength.

The Ojibwe Floral represents the Beauty of The First Peoples on Turtle Island. Floral work was beaded onto a lot of significant items and keep sakes. Also the respect for nature to love and live it in its natural beauty.

The grey designs inside the Maple Leaf crest and players number on the Maple Leafs warm up sweaters are Tyler’s Anishinaabe designs.

It was important that our organizations approached this process with intentionality and were happy that the preview we provided to Indigenous community leaders and our Indigenous Advisory Council resulted in very positive feedback and pride from seeing Indigeneity represented in the Maple Leafs and Marlies brand this way.

Dashmaawaan Bemaadzinjin

Also, on Instagram:

They describe themselves as:

An innovative food security project that utilizes catering as a means to support Indigenous Seniors & other vulnerable community members in Toronto.

fawn big canoe

The DJ for the Leafs game can be found on Instagram:

If you go to either game, please report back and tell us all what it was like.