WHL announces support of Orange Jersey Project in partnership with Orange Shirt Society

Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today its support of the Orange Jersey Project as part of a broader partnership with the Orange Shirt Society.

Established in 2022, the Orange Jersey Project strives to use the power of sport to serve as a vehicle toward educating today’s young athletes about the history of the Indian Residential School System, and to strengthen the path toward truth and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Eleven WHL Clubs in western Canada will participate in the Orange Jersey Project throughout February 2023. WHL Clubs will sport special-edition orange jerseys, complete with the WHL Truth and Reconciliation logo, during warmup of regular season games during the month of February. Jerseys will be auctioned off at the conclusion of the campaign with 100 per cent of the net proceeds from the WHL Orange Jersey auction donated back to the Orange Jersey Project.

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In addition to WHL Clubs sporting Orange Jersey Project warmup jerseys, fans can purchase limited-edition WHL Truth and Reconciliation orange t-shirts for $20 each by visiting their favourite team store in one of eight WHL markets or by contacting Net proceeds from t-shirt sales will be donated back to the Orange Shirt Society.

“On behalf of the Orange Jersey Project, we are proud to announce the next phase and partnership with the Western Hockey League,” said Jeremy Boston, Program Manager for the Orange Jersey Project. “We would like to commend the Western Hockey League on being the Big Kid in the dressing room and being a role model for all Indigenous and non-Indigenous athletes, past and present, as we continue our path towards truth and reconciliation. By using hockey as a platform to assist in educating our up-and-coming superstars of the impacts of the Indian Residential School, together as one we will begin the healing and reconciliation in Canada.”

WHL fans in the following 11 western Canadian markets can look forward to seeing special-edition orange jerseys during warmups before WHL Regular Season games: Brandon, Calgary, Edmonton, Kamloops, Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Victoria, and Winnipeg.

WHL Truth and Reconciliation t-shirts will also be available for purchase in the following eight WHL markets: Brandon, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, and Victoria.

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By supporting the Orange Jersey Project, the WHL and its participating Clubs will promote physical and mental wellness of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth through sport while contributing to a conversation that has the power to change how Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities live together.

“The Orange Shirt Society is honoured to partner with the Western Hockey League,” said Phyllis Webstad, Founder of Orange Shirt Day, and Ambassador for the Orange Shirt Society and Orange Jersey Project. “Educating WHL players on the history and legacy of the Indian Residential School system will further their understanding of what their Indigenous teammates and families have faced and continue to face. Our initiative will not only help educate young stars, but also bring communities together as we journey forward together toward Truth and Reconciliation.”

Support of the Orange Jersey Project is part of a larger commitment by the WHL to truth and reconciliation in Canada. In September 2022, the WHL announced a partnership with the Orange Shirt Society, driven by a desire to contribute to the goals of the Orange Shirt Society:

  • Supporting Indian Residential School Reconciliation;
  • Creating awareness of the individual, family, and community intergenerational impacts of the Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Society activities, and;
  • Creating awareness of the concept of “Every Child Matters.”

To help provide people with an understanding of the various traditional territories of Indigenous people in western Canada, the WHL has worked with the Orange Shirt Society and Orange Jersey Project to launch an informative webpage, which includes a map of western Canada complete with the borders of the traditional lands of Indigenous peoples and the locations of WHL Clubs, relative to these traditional lands.

“The WHL is proud to support the Orange Jersey Project as part of our partnership with the Orange Shirt Society,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “With orange jerseys visible in WHL communities during the month of February, we encourage all Canadians to have a conversation around the question ‘Why are they wearing orange jerseys?’ A conversation around this simple question can help young people learn about the history of the residential school system while actively participating in the act of reconciliation.”

One of the first steps Canadians can take on the journey towards reconciliation is to educate themselves by reading the 94 Calls to Action identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Since the closure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has confirmed over 4,100 individuals were lost to the Indian Residential School system.

SUPPORT: If you are a Survivor of or family member impacted by the residential school system and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419

About the Orange Shirt Society
The Orange Shirt Society was formed in Williams Lake by the founders of Orange Shirt Day to encourage and support communities to recognize Orange Shirt Day and to support reconciliation events and activities. Our goal is to create awareness of the individual, family, and community intergenerational impacts of Indian Residential Schools through Orange Shirt Day activities, and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters.”

About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.

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