Siksika Nation hosted the Calgary Hitmen’s pre-season opening game at the Siksika Deerfoot Sportsplex on Sept. 18, 2021. The event was a rematch of the Every Child Matters game from February 2020, featuring the Calgary Hitmen vs. Red Deer Rebels, and builds on a growing partnership between the Calgary Hitmen and Siksika Health Services.

The Calgary Hitmen and Siksika Health Services recently signed a first-of-its-kind Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Through the signing of the MOU, the partners commit to continued growth of the vision and engagement of the Every Child Matters game: to inspire all youth, with a focus on Indigenous youth, to participate in sports, and to understand that we can heal collectively through reconcili-action. The aim of the partnership is to create the new normal for the promotion of cultural awareness in sporting events, with the hope of expanding the power and reach that events like this can have on communities.

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.

Prior to game start, the Calgary Hitmen joined Siksika Health Services for a tour of Carlon and Lisa Big Snake’s home, where a white buffalo calf was born in May of this year. Buffalo are of historical and traditional significance to Siksika Nation, and the white buffalo in particular is a symbol of hope.

COVID-19 protocols for the game were aligned with the province of Albertas new public health measures, announced Sept. 15, 2021.

Event capacity was limited to 150 attendees, and all attendees were required to participate in health screening prior to entry. All attendees who were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine (born in 2009 or earlier) were required to be fully vaccinated (fully vaccinated defined as 14+ days after second dose of approved COVID-19 vaccine).

Ticket holders were seated in pods with their household or cohort members, to a maximum of 5 people per pod. Mandatory masking was required for all attendees throughout the event.

Final score of the game was 5-1 for the Red Deer Rebels.