Calgary Hitmen Partnership
Siksika Health Services has partnered with the Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation to foster change, education and reconcili-action in our communities.
The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and Siksika Health Services signed a first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in August 2021. The historic partnership commits to significant working goals: address stereotypes and racism by advancing inclusion in our communities through the promotion of the Blackfoot culture, language and history; and promote healthy lifestyles for all youth and to highlight the benefits of participation in sport.
This agreement builds on the existing working relationship between the Calgary Hitmen, Siksika Nation and Siksika Health Services. Past highlights include the “Every Child Matters” hockey game, held in 2020 and 2021 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which promoted and celebrated the Blackfoot culture, which has now become an annual event.
Other highlights in the MOU include:
- Using mentors, Hitmen players and alumni to encourage recruitment, participation and retention of young hockey players with an added focus of helping to grow other sports, recreation opportunities, and physical literacy.
- Engage to the full extent Siksika Health Services’ expertise to promote healthy lifestyles and continue to work to understand and educate on harm reduction for addictions.
The 2023 Every Child Matters game will take place at the Scotiabank Saddledome at 2:00pm on February 4 between Calgary Hitmen and the Edmonton Oil Kings. This is the third annual Every Child Matters game presented by the Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and Siksika Health Services. Prior to game time, here are some important things to know:
Siksika Health Services has sold out of free tickets to Siksika Nation members. Those who have registered for tickets can pick them up at the Siksika Health and Wellness Centre from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Remaining tickets will be available for pickup at the west entrance of the Saddledome on Feb. 4 between 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Ticket holders are strongly encouraged to pick up their tickets at SWHC in advance of the game to avoid lineups.
Tickets can still be purchased on the Calgary Hitmen website.
Parking and Access
Parking at the Stampede Grounds is $15 per vehicle. Doors open at 1:00 p.m. Ticket pick up for registered tickets will be at the West Entrance of the Saddledome.
As always, the ECM game will feature Blackfoot cultural displays. Check out our Test Kitchen in Section 227 for delicious Indigenous food. Dancers and drummers will be performing throughout the game and concourse booths with information and resources will be available for Indigenous families and general public.
We are proud to host Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Gitxsan activist for child welfare will be in attendance and featured at the game. Other special guests include Emery Burning Grass, Siksika Nation First Responders as Flag Bearers, and Siksika Nation & Area School Princesses & Warriors.
Post-Game Family Skate:
The family skate will start roughly 20 minutes after the game. Participants must fill out waiver and registration form.
Anyone under the age of 18 must have and keep their helmets on while on the ice. You cannot bring sticks/pucks or chairs or other stability equipment on the ice.
No one will be permitted to leave the building and return with skates. Skates must be brought with them to their seats for the duration of the game.
To register this skate, please register then fill out waiver.
Once registered, YOU MUST fill out the Calgary Hitmen’s waiver form in order to participate NO EXCEPTIONS. Click here to sign waiver.
Once both of these steps are completed, you can bring your skates and helmets to the game. No sticks please.
About the ECM Jersey
So how do you capture such an important theme into a uniform? In this case, the spirit and intent was realized by a partnership of local Indigenous artists: Richard Running Rabbit, Siksika Recreation & Parks Lead and his friend, Jacob Alexis.
“It’s totally different working with a First Nations graphic artist because you don’t have to explain the concept,” Running Rabbit explained.
Now there are many concepts that went into this – many – according to Siksika Health Services’ CEO, Dr. Tyler White, who initiated the process and asked Richard to start putting concepts together. White says this took some time, as Richard was so deep into research he had come back to White with “12 mockups”. These were eventually whittled down to a select few.
“Richard came to me with some archived material of Blackfoot quillwork as a reference piece,” Alexis says. From there it was a step-by-step process bringing the idea to life. “I researched old tipi art in the style of the area.”
Every Child Matters meaning
The cornerstone of Every Child Matters is about the children – past, present, and future – who are impacted by Indian Residential Schools (IRS) in Canada. Siksika Health Services’ partnership with the Calgary Hitmen for the annual Every Child Matters hockey game acknowledges this, and aims to further educate and raise awareness about this important topic.
Payotapoyakii (Margaret Bad Boy)
The children who were and are impacted by IRS are all precious children. And Every Child Matters. Siksika Nation Elder, the late Mrs. Margaret Bad Boy, whose Blackfoot name was Payotapoyakii, was a living example of this, having taken many children into her home to provide them with the loving kindness and care that all children need and deserve.
This year, we are honoured to highlight the legacy of the late Siksika Elder Payotapoyakii (Margaret Bad Boy) during the Every Child Matters Hitmen hockey game. Payotapoyakii was born in the late 1800s in Siksika and lived to be over 100 years old. Payotapoyakii never had any biological children, but instead she adopted numerous (more than 100) children as her own.
During the Indian Residential School period, the Blackfoot people were slowly losing touch with their cultural ways, however Payotapoyakii became a prominent teacher for anyone willing to learn. She taught about culture, language, about how the Blackfoot lived long ago, and about how to respect others— which is an important value in Blackfoot culture.
Payotapoyakii’s inspirational life has encouraged many to increase their own knowledge of Blackfoot culture, and live healthy, holistic lives. Payotapoyakii lived to be more than 100 years old by practicing her cultural ways and living a good life, including eating healthy foods, staying active, and refraining from drug use. Payotapoyakii is a true hero because she faced many hardships, but amidst them all, she saw the importance of keeping our Blackfoot culture alive, and caring for our precious children.
[SOURCE: Interview with Mrs. Laura Sitting Eagle – Siksika Nation Elder]
Tell us about your connection with Payotapoyakii (Margaret Bad Boy). Fill out the form below or share on your social media account (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) with the hashtag, #MargaretBadBoy
Margaret Bad Boy family tree
Siksika Health Services has invited the Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation as guests to Siksika Nation on numerous occasions over the years.
Siksika Health Services hosted two Calgary Hitmen pre-season games at the Deerfoot Sportsplex.
In 2021, the game featured the Calgary Hitmen vs. the Red Deer Rebels, where players had a chance prior to puck drop to visit a white bison and her calf at the Big Snake ranch in Siksika.
2022 pre-season game consisted between the Calgary Hitmen vs. the Edmonton Oil Kings. Fans packed the Sportsplex to watch these elite athletes in action.
Siksika Calgary Flames ODR
The Calgary Flames Outdoor Rink is the first outdoor rink in Siksika Nation, and serves a population of more than 4,000 people with six schools in our area. The ODR provides a comfortable and supportive environment locally for people to improve their wellbeing through recreational activity.
The ODR is used year-round, including rollerblading, skateboarding, lacrosse, basketball and ground hockey in the off-season. Programs and classes help people reach their mental health and fitness goals, while promoting the sport and values of athleticism.
Cultural exchanges and mentorship
Together, the partners are working to address stereotypes and racism by advancing inclusion in our communities through the promotion of Indigenous culture, language and history, and promote healthy lifestyles for all youth by highlighting the benefits of participation in sport.
The Calgary Hitmen visited Siksika Nation to practice alongside Siksika Minor Hockey, share learnings with our local hockey coaches and teams, and participate in a powerful face painting ceremony.
On September 30, 2022, Siksika Health Services and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation hosted the first Every Child Matters Traditional Powwow.
7500 people attended, danced, sang and supported the Every Child Matters Traditional Powwow on September 30th at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, known more commonly to Indigenous communities as “Orange Shirt Day”, honours those who attended Residential Schools in Canada, their families, and communities.
By commemorating the legacy of Residential School survivors, and those who never returned home, we participate in a vital component of the reconciliation process.