The Terrace Minor Hockey Association U13 representative Kermodes began their 2022-2023 season with a team building exercise, honouring truth and reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2022.
Karla Frank, who has a child on the team, walked the young Kermodes through the meaning of Orange Shirt Day and Canada’s second annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
The team began by acknowledging the traditional and unceded territory of the Tsimshian people, promising to honour the people by respecting the land for generations to come.
“To me this day is not to re-live the tragic and painful history but to show our respect by lifting up our survivors as they move forward with healing the inter-generational hardships of the Indigenous people and also honouring the children who did not make it home from residential school,” Frank told the team.
“Today is also Orange Shirt Day. The orange shirt is an Indigenous-led grassroots movement to raise awareness of the impacts of residential school.
“Again, this day is to acknowledge the tragic history of residential school but more importantly to remind us that every child matters. When we build up our children such as yourselves by putting the child in the centre, we as a community are better off. When we know better, we do better.”
The team bowed their heads and observed a moment of silence to honour those who attended residential schools, the survivors and those who did not return home.
Kermodes team manager Amber Armstrong said since this season got off to an early start, the teammates are getting to know one another through activities — having an Orange Shirt Day was an important part of that.
She said Frank graciously offered to speak with the children was a way of marking the day and building team spirit.
Coach Brian Rigler said he’s proud of how attentive the children, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous were, adding that having a parent speak to them about it was especially meaningful.
“She’s got some real life experience with it. I think they all really took it in,” Rigler said.
“I think it really resonated to some of the kids a little bit more just to see that one of their good buddies has family history of the stuff that’s been happening. I think that makes it a little bit more personal for them as well.
Rigler said it’s about building character, tying together inclusivity and respect for sport.
“If we can use it as an opportunity to teach them some real life lessons and make them better people in the future then I think it’s pretty neat to be able to do.
“We’re building that family already.”
The team played their first league games of the season in Vanderhoof the following day and the Kermodes swept the weekend with two wins and no losses.
Next stop for the Kermodes will be the Smithers Jim Bolster Tournament, Oct. 7-8, which hosts U13, U15 and U18 representative hockey teams from throughout B.C. The U13 Kermodes will then host the first Terrace Minor Hockey Association tournament of the season Oct. 14-16.
Armstrong said the annual Cliff Sharples Memorial Tournament in Terrace is a chance for the community to come out and cheer on their hometown team.
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