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Ottawa Swans host their first ever Indigenous Round

June 18, 2024

On June 8th, 2024 the Ottawa Swans debuted their new playing kit designed for their Inaugural Indigenous Round.

This culmination of this idea began pre-Covid when a group of Ottawa Players with Indigenous backgrounds discussed hosting something similar to the Indigenous Round hosted by the AFL in Australia, with the purpose of showing recognition and acknowledgment for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

The next step was locating an artist up for the challenge. Enter Kanyen’keha Artist and sports fan Kory Parkin, who has also designed jerseys for AHL, OHL and NLL teams. After some fundraising to commission the art, the next major boost came from the Sponsorship of Blyth Academy Glebe to fund two complete sets of jerseys for the Men’s and Women’s+ teams.

The jersey is interwoven with lines representing the importance of rivers in the area as a means to travel, and the circles representing meeting places, acknowledging the importance of the region as a traditional area of trade. ‘Ottawa’ is derived from the Anishinabe word ‘Odawa’ which means ‘to trade’.

To open the round, players and spectators were invited onto the field where Ottawa Swans President, Rob Harbic, introduced Mr. Greg Meekis, Ojibwe Cree from Sandy Lake First Nation, Knowledge Keeper, Singer/Drummer and Cultural Resource Coordinator with the Odawa Native Friendship Centre.

Mr. Meekis spoke of the importance of Truth & Reconciliation, and the parts we all play in it, followed by Mr. Meekis smudging players and spectators alike.

Continuing the opening ceremony was Anishinabe Hoop Dancer, Makhena Rankin-Guerin who gave a mesmerizing performance before the first bounce of the Men’s game.

As Mr. Meekis performed an inspiring singing and drumming performance, and Makhena wowed those who had gathered, the players who had dreamt of this day 5 years prior looked at each other with a sense of pride.

In furtherance of this acknowledgement, Swans players have committed to running free clinics for Indigenous youth through the Odawa Native Friendship Centre this summer. 

The Swans Men’s and Women’s+ sides were both victorious in their respective matches over their opponents from the Hamilton Wildcats, with Joshua LaPorta (Men) and Charlotte Biot (Women+) being named players of the match.

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