Fans who attended Saturday night’s Montreal Canadiens game against Toronto heard a different version of Canada’s national anthem – singer-songwriter Bakisu Mukash will sing “Oh Canada” in English, French and Cree.
“We got it,” Mukash said in a video posted on social media earlier in March. We sing the national anthem.
Mukash, who is originally from Whapmagoostui in northern Quebec, called it “a dream come true.”
“I hope to do it fairly. I hope to do justice to you guys,” he continued. “For anyone who isn’t a fan of Habs, just cheer him up this time.”
The translated anthem is part of the Montreal Canadiens’ first indigenous celebration night. Aboriginal chiefs showed up and players skated in their T-shirts in celebration of Orange Shirt Day.
An auction raised funds for organizations working with indigenous youth in Quebec.
“The struggle against various forms of racism and discrimination against indigenous peoples is far from over,” said Ghislaine Piccard, president of the First Nations Association of Quebec Labrador, who will attend the event, in a press release Friday.
“So I would like to warmly thank the Montreal Canadiens,” he continued, adding that the event would help “strengthen the bonds that unite our communities and nations.”
Introductory game Anishinaabe DJ and producer Boogey played The Beat, who blends traditional Aboriginal songwriting styles with modern electronic rhythms.
Kahnawake resident Thomas Deer designed special T-shirts for the game competition inspired by, among other things, Orange Shirt Day – a day to remember those affected by Canada’s residential school system.
The orange shirts feature the modified Canadiens logo on a Two Row Wampum design similar to the Two Row Wampum belt that represents a pact of respect between the Haudenosaunee peoples and Europeans in the region.
Another view of Thomas Deere’s special jerseys designed for Saturday’s match against the Toronto Maple Leafs (Source: Montreal Canadiens)
Hats, T-shirts, and hoodies designed after deer t-shirts are available for sale. All profits will go to the New Pathways Foundation.
Deer said in a press release Saturday, whose illustration credits include Transformers, GI Joe, Godzilla, MASK, Micronauts, Ghostbusters, Star Trek and Star Wars.
A full summary of the meaning behind the T-shirt design can be found here.
“At the start of the season, we pledged to engage in the reconciliation process by putting forward initiatives aimed at recognizing, honoring and supporting Indigenous people,” said team owner Jeff Molson in a press release Friday.
“Through our actions, we want to inspire positive change in terms of diversity and equality within our sport, on and off the ice, as well as in the community, in order to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment for all players and fans, of any form of racism or discrimination.”