The Toronto Maple Leafs honoured victims of residential schools, as well as missing and murdered indigenous women, during the first intermission of Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
The ceremony was shown on the Air Canada Centre jumbotron and was held in support of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie’s Secret Path album, which he recorded to promote reconciliation across Canada.
The Leafs broadcast messages from 82-year-old Fred Sasakamoose, the NHL’s first-ever indigenous player (1953) and a victim of residential school abuse, and Mike Downie, who spoke in place of his brother, who has terminal brain cancer and was not present at the ceremony.
Also in attendance at ice level with Sasakamoose and Downie for the moment of reconciliation were Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Chief Stacey Laforme of the Territory and Treaty Lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit of Anishinaabe, and Josee Lusignan, president and founder of I Love First Peoples.
Highlights from the recent Secret Path concert were shown.
“Tonight the Toronto Maple Leafs acknowledge and pay tribute to all indigenous peoples,” the ACC’s public address announcer said.
“Gord’s making his life count,” Downie told The Canadian Press prior to one of his brother’s performances last month. “This is his most important work, his most powerful work, and I think it’s going to live forever.”
In his message to ACC fans on Tuesday, Downie asked for them to support the Secret Path initiative by donating to the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund at downiewenjack.ca.
With files from The Canadian PressReport Typo/Error