Four Maritime Aboriginal artists have been selected to paint hockey sticks for the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships taking place in Moncton and Halifax.
For Millbrook First Nation Mi’kmaw artist Lorne Julien, this opportunity was a dream come true.
The call went out about a month ago for artists to create a unique design for a hockey stick that would be awarded to the most outstanding players in each game at the World Junior Championships.
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Julien, who was one of the chosen artists, painted 20 of the sticks in about 100 hours. They feature a design that he says has deep meaning for his culture.
“The eagle represents love and it also represents protection and I also have an orange heart which is in the center of the bird,” he explained. “The eagle and this orange heart represent residential school survivors and those who did not return home.
Local event manager for the tournament, Grant MacDonald, says it was important for the organization to incorporate Aboriginal customs into the origins of hockey.
“They all come from very diverse backgrounds, have unique connections and stories to the game of hockey and what we want to do is honor their work and thereby honor the stick carving traditions that have been made by the Mi’kmaq,” he said. .
For Julien, it’s a loop moment. He is the great-grandson of Chief Joseph Julien of Millbrook First Nation, who made hockey sticks in the late 1800s.
“Then they were called Micmac sticks and they called the Mi’kmaq expert woodcarvers,” he said.
He grew up playing the sport and says the opportunity to see his work exhibited on a world stage is an honour.
“When I found out I was really happy and just honored and grateful,” he said.
— With file by Rebecca Lau
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