The back-to-back weekend games at Bell MTS Place were inspired by the NHL’s “This is Hockey” initiative, which promotes diversity and inclusiveness in the sport.
“It was really important for us to find artwork that resonated with the Indigenous community and something that felt authentic and rang true,” said Josh Dudych, director of creative services at True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE).
Kevin Chief, co-founder of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre (WASAC) has been working with TNSE on the WASAC Night Jets Game, Saturday, Feb. 16 and the Follow Your Dreams Moose Game, Sunday, Feb. 17.
Chief brought Leticia Spence, a graphic design student from Red River College, on board to work alongside the design team at TNSE.
“We knew that she was somebody who was learning and developing her talents around graphic design but we also knew that she had all this knowledge, that she could be part of it.”
Spence, who is Cree and from Pimicikamak First Nation, jumped at the opportunity.
“Most people think of First Nations people as a monolith and singular group of folks, but there are many different tribes and we all have our own languages, cultures and ways of perceiving the world. So I kind of wanted to showcase that,” said Spence.
With mood boards as a guide, Spence applied her own vision and creativity. For the Jets design, she honed-in on Indigenous bead-work with angled patterns. She used colours from a medicine wheel, images of feathers and a tipi. She also used a Morning Star motif in the support images to represent the idea of guidance.
“My earliest memories of First Nations design would be moccasins I received from my Auntie every Christmas. So I wanted to take that and incorporate it in the concept.”
The Manitoba Moose logo pulls from other Indigenous styles. Spence used her own take on the Woodlands School of Art style for the Follow Your Dreams game look.
“To me when I think of follow your dreams I think of something you’re cultivating inside of yourself a dream or goal that gives you passion. Taking that and running with it and see where it takes you in life.”
And running with it — is just what Spence has done with this project. It’s an experience that is about as exciting as it comes.
“I’m just really happy that True North and WASAC invited me to take part and share my culture in a celebratory way,” Spence said.
“The whole creative process was beneficial to me because I learned a lot from the True North team. It was nice to receive that guidance and when we got to the final product it was ‘Yes, we finally got here – yay!'”
“We’re thrilled,” Dudych said.
“It became a natural synergy partnership for us to bring her into our office and give her the experience working with our design team and learn from her about the Indigenous culture.”
The custom logos and other branding elements for both games will be displayed through out Bell MTS Place. Some t-shirts and other merchandise will be available at the games, with proceeds going to WASAC.
WATCH: Indigenous celebration at Bell MTS Centre hockey games aimed at building understanding
“That’s the whole idea of what reconciliation is all about. What does it look like when we build relationships with one another and that’s a great example of it,” Chief said.
WASAC Night at the Winnipeg Jets game will feature local Indigenous county and folk singer Don Amero singing the national anthem, drumming group Spirit Sands Singers and a ceremonial puck drop with Indigenous youth and elders.
Manitoba Moose Follow Your Dreams game will welcome 500 youth from Indigenous communities throughout Manitoba. Students will have an exclusive opportunity to meet and hear from Indigenous NHL alumni Reggie Leach, Jamie Leach and Daryl Stanley before the game.