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.
On September 16, 2023, Siksika Health Services and the Calgary Hitmen will host the second annual Every Child Matters Traditional Powwow at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Doors at 1:00pm with Grand Entry starting at 2:00pm.
Join us as we honour and commemorate our beloved Elders and loved ones who attended residential schools, and celebrate the resilience of our people and culture that remains strong. The celebration event is free to attend; seating is first-come first-served.
There will be vendors and booths featuring Indigenous artists, partners, and friends of Siksika Nation. There are dance specials in all adult categories, with a special “Moving Forward” Honour Song to recognize our IRS Heroes. There will also be a Junior and Teen Girls’ Cowgirl Special. Concessions will be open; delicious food and drinks will be available for purchase on-site.
Parking is limited due to construction in the area. Plan to arrive early, and visit https://www.scotiabanksaddledome.com/getting-here/ for parking info
The mission of the ECM Powwow
Indigenous ceremonies and celebrations like the annual Every Child Matters powwow connect people with mother earth through the drum beat of our songs and prayers
We are mindful of knowing that our former IRS students experienced this painful trauma; this legacy of the IRS is a lifelong journey of healing
Our self-worth as First Nation people is a seed of incredible strength that has been passed down by our ancestors.
Let’s honour our people, and let’s begin to heal together in communities and rebuild the circle, bringing everyone back, creating a new narrative in our communities.
The Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and Siksika Health Services delegates hosted the 2023 Every Child Matters hockey game, on February 4, 2023.
This was the third annual Every Child Matters game presented by the Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club and Siksika Health Services, this year in partnership with presenting sponsors: Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary, the Blackfoot Confederacy, First Nations Health Consortium, and Siksika Family Services.
The Every Child Matters game is part of a much larger movement of the same name, and is a recognition and commitment to action to ensure that all children know their importance, and to honour those who attended Residential Schools in Canada, their families, and communities.
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]
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.