On November 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs and MLSE Foundation will raise awareness for reconciliation and honour Indigenous people in Canada who have lost their lives to residential school and suicide, and to the missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The ceremony will take place at the Air Canada Centre when the Leafs face-off against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
The initiative reflects the organization’s continued support of Indigenous communities, and especially the youth, across Canada.
A special video will be played at Air Canada Centre featuring Gord Downie’s recent live performance of Secret Path and highlighting The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund that has been created to support reconciliation across Canada.
During intermission, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler will be present at ice level, accompanied by Fred Sasakamoose, the NHL’s first Indigenous hockey player, as well as Josée Lusignan, president of I Love First Peoples.
“I am honoured to participate in this historic event. I thank the Toronto Maple Leafs, the MLSE Foundation and the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund for providing the national spotlight to raise awareness and honour Canada’s Indigenous Peoples who continue to suffer from suicide, the loss of missing and murdered women and girls, and the legacy of the Indian Residential School system,” Grand Chief Fiddler said.
Grand Chief Fiddler continued, “Thanks to Gord Downie’s Secret Path project, momentum is building across this country that I hope will move us together towards the path to reconciliation. We are encouraged that the Government of Canada has recently committed to increasing funding for child welfare services to assist our families and youth, but huge gaps remain between the quality of life of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across this country. This is an opportunity for everyone to work together in honour of Chanie Wenjacks life.”
The initiative came at the request of Lusignan: “As a non-Indigenous Canadian, I want to see more Canadians involved in reconciliation. In light of the massive impact Gord is having on our nation, we have an opportunity to bring reconciliation into every home in Canada and honour Indigenous people in a way that is unprecedented.”
“The Toronto Maple Leafs and MLSE Foundation feel it is important to engage Canadians in this moment of reconciliation,” said MLSE Foundation Head of Community Affairs Michael Bartlett. “Our continued programming, which directly supports the lives of today’s Indigenous youth, reflects how we feel about the treatment of Indigenous Canadians – in the past and in the present.”