The WN Lynx hockey team dedicated their September 30th home game to underscoring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The evening began with Indigenous drumming, a prayer by Nipissing First Nation Elder Evelyn McLeod, the singing of the O Canada in French, English and Ojibway by the Our Lady of Sorrows choir, a moment of silence for those who never returned from residential schools, and some words from June Commanda, NFN Elder and residential school survivor. The crowd cheered as the Lynx players came out onto the ice with brand new orange jerseys, custom-made for the event. “It felt great seeing everyone rocking those jerseys. I find it’s a confidence booster seeing everybody that cares and appreciates that. I really liked it, I thought it was cool, and it made me work harder!” says Carson Laronde, the Lynx’s right-wing, and their youngest Indigenous player. Laronde grew up on Bear Island.
Denis Commanda, the Lynx’s assistant coach, had the idea to organise the event, and is quite pleased with the feedback he’s gotten. Commanda says this was not the first time they had drumming before a game, but he wanted to go all out for Truth and Reconciliation, and the team was fully in support. “I think the team was all for it. We’re a team that really likes the community, and the community shows a lot of support for the team. Being part of that event, and supporting that cause was a big deal in our dressing room,” says Lynx Captain Stéphane Phillion.
Donations were sent to the Lynx from all over the community and beyond, Commanda says, all of which will be sent to Nipissing First Nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Fund. Furthermore, the special orange Lynx jerseys were auctioned off to raise even more funds. The totals haven’t been fully tallied yet, and Commanda says that they even received additional donations days after the game. Once tallied, the funds will be presented to Nipissing First Nation Chief and Council.