Artwork celebrates Little Native Hockey League anniversary

A new artwork installation at Angus Glen Community Centre pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Little Native Hockey League (Little NHL) tournament, which was hosted by the City of Markham.

The art, created by Anishinaabe Woodland artist Brandon Jacko, depicts the Little NHL’s four pillars: respect, education, citizenship and sportsmanship. It was installed at the community centre, where the championship games of the four-day tournament were held on March 14.

In the Seven Grandfather Teachings, respect is represented by the buffalo, while the raven represents honesty, which the artist describes as “critical” in the field of education. Citizenship is illustrated using four colours within the players: yellow, black, red and white. “These are the four sacred colours of our Medicine Wheel and represent the four colours of people walking on Mother Earth,” Jacko explains.

Sportsmanship is portrayed by the two hockey players celebrating. “Hockey has the power to bring people together,” he says. “When one player gets injured, their teammates and the other team take a knee out of respect. When one player acts selfishly, the whole game is affected.”

Finally, the eagles on the back of the players’ jerseys represent love. “It is a marker of the strong love our people have for the sport and the omnipotence that this sport brings to our people,” Jacko explains. “The power to teach our youth, the power to come together in healthy competition and the power to not only believe in our dreams but to truly act on them.”

More than 4,000 Indigenous youth from almost 250 teams from across the province took part in the 550-game Little NHL tournament, which was spread across Markham’s 10 different ice rinks. “The Little NHL is more than just a hockey tournament; it is a symbol of unity, resilience and cultural exchange,” said Chico Ralf, Acting President, Little NHL.

Photo of Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, left, and Anishinaabe Woodland artist Brandon Jacko courtesy of the City of Markham.

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