Peace Wapiti Academy rugby players honour Indigenous heritage with new jerseys

Rugby jerseys

Rugby jerseys

Photo Credit: Lisa Knudtson, PWA Photography Teacher

Peace Wapiti Academy’s (PWA) new rugby jerseys represent more than just Titan pride. Thanks to rugby coach Ms. Sandboe-Goleniec and a dedicated team of staff, students and community members, PWA rugby players have brought Indigenous heritage to the field.

Ms. Sandboe-Goleniec says the project was inspired by one of her Indigenous players who shows great pride in her heritage. “Last year she had these beautiful leggings with Indigenous art in PWA colours. When I started thinking about getting new jerseys to replace our old ones, I couldn’t get her leggings out of my head. I realized that we could get new jerseys and share a message at the same time.” After contacting the Peace Wapiti Public School Division’s Indigenous Education Services team for support, the design team joined forces with Natascha Okimaw, Program Coordinator for the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre, to create a meaningful message.

Being those who will regularly wear the jerseys, students were involved in the design process and were often consulted on which designs they preferred. Displayed on the front of the jerseys is a curved design, giving recognition to the Treaty 8 territory that PWA is located on. “We felt the curving design represented Peace Wapiti well. We envisioned the two curves as being the Peace River and Wapiti River, and how they come together,” says Ms. Sandboe-Goleniec. On each sleeve is a handprint, a red hand to represent Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and an orange hand to represent residential school survivors. Above each player’s number is Peace Wapiti Academy printed in Cree syllabics.

Ms. Sandboe-Goleniec says her players have shown respect and pride while wearing their new jerseys, and have mentioned not only how cool they look, but how they are really pleased with the Indigenous representation.