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Spruce Kings reveal Indigenous jersey to be worn for home opener

The Prince George Spruce Kings home opener is set for Friday, Sept. 30 which is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The Prince George Spruce Kings home opener is set for Friday, Sept. 30 which is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The hockey club has partnered with local Indigenous artist Clayton Gauthier and the Lheidli T’enneh on whose land Prince George is located to create an Indigenous jersey, which will be worn by the Spruce Kings Friday to honour the day.

The new jerseys were revealed on Tuesday morning at the Kopar Memorial Arena. Those in attendance included Lheidli T’enneh councillor Crystal Gibbs, artist Clayton Gauthier and hockey players on the Prince George Spruce Kings team, including team Captain Colton Cameron, whose ancestry is Metis, and Mike Hawes, general manager.

There is great significance to the First Nations people of the artwork that was included in the jersey.

“Through the process of getting this completed I talked to many different nations and elders – getting their guidance on the final design,” Clayton Gauthier, artist, said. “This has been a blessing to be part of this and there are many doors that are opening for our people and it’s a beautiful thing to witness and be part of. I know in our hearts our ancestors are dancing.”

There is a sun that has the Spruce Kings logo in its centre, a Spruce tree and a salmon within the circle design.

“So the design took a little bit and we went back and forth with changes – we stuck with the circle design as everything goes around and does not end,” Gauthier explained. “Within the design the Spruce Kings logo is in the sun to represent that they are bringing the light. We incorporated the Spruce tree and the salmon is the representation of our people – the Dakelh – and it translates to the people who travel by water. A lot of our nations are connected by water so I tried my best to keep it as simple as we could by honouring the many nations who share this land. The salmon also brings wealth and prosperity. Back then if we had lots of salmon we were considered wealthy and there was a lot of trade taking place. Salmon is also very healthy for our bodies and symbolizes a long life.”

The red and black background symbolizes life and structure, respectively, Gauthier added.

Crystal Gibbs, councillor for the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, spoke about how the jersey worn on the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation is a great way to recognize the day and honour First Nations people.

Mike Hawes, general manager, spoke after the reveal of the jersey worn by hockey players.

“Our game Friday is one of the most important games in the history of the Spruce Kings organization,” Hawes said. “It’s going to be an extremely important night for us. There are many things in life that are bigger than the game of hockey including the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, a day to recognize the negative impacts of residential schools in Canada and to honour survivors and families in our communities. It is also important to remember the many children who never returned home.”

The discussion started last fall about what the Spruce Kings could do to recognize the day this year during their first home game of the season, he added.

Hawes presented Gauthier with his own jersey that he will wear at the game on Friday.

Captain Colton Cameron said a few words about how he discovered his Metis heritage and embraced it, hoping that everyone could come together on Friday to honour this important day.

For more information about the opening game visit