Anishinaabe artist outfits Canadian Olympic curlers in Indigenous-inspired uniforms

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SASKATOON — Canada's curlers will wear both their Canadian pride and a celebration of Indigenous spirit when they compete at the Beijing Games.

Curling Canada and their uniform partner Dynasty Curling, an Indigenous-owned company based in Manitoba, unveiled new uniforms that were designed in a collaboration between two-spirit Anishinaabe artist Patrick Hunter and designer Kevin Hurrie.

Canadian curlers will wear the uniforms at the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics, at the world women's curling championships in Prince George, B.C., and the world men's curling championships in Las Vegas, among other international events.

"For Indigenous artwork to make it to the world stage is such a win for my people and community," said Hunter, who also designed the mask for Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. “I’m beyond stoked for that Indigenous artwork to be mine."

The initiative is aligned with the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 83.

There are four key design elements in the Canadian uniforms, which will retain the traditional red, white and black colour scheme. The front features the silhouettes of seven trees, inspired by the forests of Hunter's Treaty Three homeland of Red Lake, Ont. They represent the seven grandfather teachings sacred to Anishinaabe people, and important values in sport: love, humility, wisdom, bravery, honesty, truth and respect.

The sides feature four unique eagle feathers -- one for each of the four curling team members. Eagles are revered in Anishinaabe and other First Nations cultures.

An illustration of braided sweetgrass, woven with cedar, tobacco and sage leaves -- the four sacred medicines used by many Indigenous peoples to cleanse energy -- adorns the inside of the jacket sleeves.

The Maple Leaf is the fourth element.

"(The uniforms) represent exactly what our sport and country is about, they send positive messages of inclusiveness, and our athletes should feel proud to wear them,” Katherine Henderson, Curling Canada's CEO, said in a release. "The Canadian uniform is iconic in curling, and I can't wait to see our teams wear them."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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