“It’s not just 215”: why Kyla Morris taped her stick orange

KAHNAWAKE, QUE. — Kyla Morris, a 20 year-old Psychology student at Dawson College, is a Moahwk, Wolf Clan athletes that plays as a winger for their QCHL Hockey Team, the Dawson Blues.

In 2019, Morris noted that she was the only girl from Kahnawake playing college-level hockey, and maintained the left winger position and even moved to take over some time as centre in her time with the Blues.

But in the month of September in 2018, the same month that hosts Orange Shirt Day, Morris taped her stick a bright orange for all of the “children who suffered, survived and all that has happened.”

“That was in my first year at Dawson during the home opener,” she said. “I was a rookie and I was new to the team and I wanted to do it even if no one else on the team was going to.”

She posted the picture of her hitting the ice with the orange taped stick on June 1st of this year. But in her post, Morris noted that as a new comer to the team, she was subjected to passive aggression from her teammates.

“The small little snickers and the laughs, I just had to overlook it and remember that I taped my stick orange for a reason and to remember that reason why I did it. I just had to overlook all of those girls and their comments.”

“It’s really sad to think about how many children there were, but it’s even more sad to think about the fact that it’s not just 215. There are so many more children that need to be brought home and there’s a lot that needs to be done for this to happen,” she said.

But nonetheless, the sport she loves and combing it with raising awareness brought forth her explanation of how hockey has impacted her life.

“Honestly, I think that my life has revolved around hockey. It’s brought me so many places and has given me so many opportunities.

“I started in Kahnawake really young, I think five or six years old. Then I started in Peewee to play Double ‘AA’, double letters with girls in Montreal. Then after that, I started playing with a lot of different teams all over the place.”

Morris said that she had a sports scholarship for hockey at the high school that she went to, and played soccer as well as flag football. Some of her happiest memories were intertwined with spending time with her father while playing hockey.

“It’s hard to choose one but I would say that my favourite memories are of the trips that I have gone on, and I would say that everyday, my father me to the West Island to play hockey and riding with him every weekend to go play hockey. Or driving to Nova Scotia, it really made a difference and improved my relationship with my dad through my whole life,” she said.

As for other Indigenous athletes that might find themselves in similar positions in their sports — wanting to raise awareness and possibly being subject of conversation amongst teammates — Morris believes that this advocacy is something that Indigenous athletes should do as part of being important role models to younger generations.

“I think you’re there for a reason and your presence means a lot, so be an advocate for this cause, for all of those children. You should use our platform and you should give information to those that who don’t know what it is or aren’t educated on it,” she said.

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