Truth and Reconciliation resonates in high school football game

By TRT Staff with notes from,

BRANTFORD — On Friday, October 6, the Grand Erie District School Board highlighted a football game that took place on the Friday of Truth of Reconciliation Week at the Pauline Johnson Collegiate and Vocational School (PJCVS) against the McKinnon Park Secondary School.

The now-annual Every Child Matters football game, a collaborative effort planned by the PJCVS team, the Indigenous Student Association, Athletic Council and Student Council, has become an opportunity for players and students to honour ongoing commitments to Truth and Reconciliation efforts.

This year, the decision was made to donate contributions from student ticket sales to the Woodland Cultural Centre located in Brantford, to support educational programming to preserve, promote and strengthen Indigenous culture, and opportunities for learning opportunities regarding the tragic legacies of the residential school system.

The PJCVS team donned orange ribbons, and the halftime presentation included performers from Six Nations. According to the Grand Erie District School Board website, at the heart of Pauline Johnson’s football program is John Macdonald, head coach of the team, SOAR trainer, English teacher and guidance counsellor. Macdonald is Mohawk, Wolf clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River, a graduate of Simcoe Composite School, and a former Hamilton Tiger-Cat.

On the date, pre-game, Tiger-Cat players wore jerseys with an Indigenous-inspired, reimagined logo designed by Kyle Joedicke, who attended McKinnon Park Secondary School where Macdonald was one of MacDonald’s teachers. Joedicke is also Cayuga Nation and Turtle Clan from Six Nations.

According to the Grand Erie District School Board website, schools in Grand Erie are situated on the longstanding territories of Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

“During Truth and Reconciliation Week, schools and classrooms across Grand Erie renewed commitments to deepening an understanding of the collective histories, and the intergenerational trauma resulting from the residential school system in Canada. Throughout the year, a reconciliation framework and cross-curricular approach opens doors to important conversations and ongoing commitments to action,” reads the website.

In Hamilton, a part of Hamilton Sports Group’s ongoing commitment to local Indigenous communities, the organization unveiled their plans to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in September.

This included the Indigenous inspired logos for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Forge FC designed by Jodieke. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats later hosted the Calgary Stampeders on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and various ele-ments were incorporated into the gameday presentation at Tim Hortons Field. The Tiger-Cats invited over 250 Indigenous youth and families from local communities including Six Nations, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and surrounding communities to attend the game.

The Hamilton Sports Group also supports the Play It Forward program.

Play it Forward is a sports camp hosted at Tim Hortons Field that provides hundreds of youths from local Indigenous communities, including Six Nations, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and surrounding communities, a unique experience with the Tiger-Cats, including mentorship opportunities with Ti-cats players and tickets to games throughout the year.

This year, the program included a sports camp on July 17, where 150 Indigenous youth from the local area will be invited to Tim Hortons Field to participate in a mix of football drills and other activities led by Tiger-Cats players, the Dance and Cheer team, and special guest coaches.

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