At their upcoming home game against Edmonton on November 1st, 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 the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women. The initiative reflects the organization's continued support of Indigenous communities, and especially the youth, across Canada.
To mark this occasion, a special video will be played at Air Canada Centre that evening featuring Gord Downie's recent live performance of Secret Path and highlighting The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund that has been created to support reconciliation across Canada. Secret Path tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, the 12-year-old Ojibway boy who ran away from his residential school in 1966 and died 6 days later on the side of the tracks trying to get home. 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.
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. Our organization brings forth ideas and projects that make it easy to get involved." I Love First Peoples is in talks with other NHL and CFL teams to bring more awareness events in coming months.
"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."