In a commitment to continue education and advocacy for Truth and Reconciliation, this logo will be worn by all Huskie Athletics student-athletes, coaches, and support staff during the weekend of September 30.
The concept started when artist Chris Chipak, from Red Pheasant First Nations, artist name inchipakwetrust, posted his version of the Huskie logo on social media. This image resonated with the student-athletes and from there a partnership was formed to bring the image to USask to raise awareness and acknowledge the truth behind the Canadian residential school system on Orange Shirt Day.
"Throughout my six-year journey as a Huskie, I have seen and experienced first-hand the efforts Huskie Athletics has undertaken to ensure Indigenous people are represented and included." said Kendra Farmer, Huskie track and field alumna. "To me, the imagery and symbolism in the Huskie logo illustrates an interconnectedness between us all, the land and our shared history and journey forward. As a Huskie alumna and a Métis person I know I will feel a sense of pride wearing this shirt as I believe it will help facilitate conversation around the teachings of Indigenous cultures and social justice issues facing Indigenous people."
Through conversations about the impacts that the student-athletes have in the community and the work that Huskie Athletics as an organization are doing to meet the TRC Calls to Action, Chipak added symbolism to his original art to signify connection, representation, and recognition of Residential School Survivors.
"This project is important to me as an artist and as a proud alumnus to the University of Saskatchewan," said Chipak. "As an educator, I understand the importance of feeling like you belong and having a sense of community in order to grow. Personally, I struggled in university since coming from a reservation, it was a culture shock. I could not adjust to having more students in once class than my whole school combined. The adjustment was tough, but I was determined to do it not for myself but my community. When it was all said and done, I reflected on how there was multiple people who became support every year for me from peers, cohorts, advisors, and professors that made me feel like I was known and believed in. I wanted to create a visual that would represent community and connecting us to on another. An image that makes us proud of who we are, where we come from and where we are going!"
The Indigenous student-athletes were engaged in the symbolism put into this project and Residential School Survivors, Elders and community members contributed to the final logo. Their contributions will leave a lasting legacy on this Huskie logo and USask.
"My relatives did not have the opportunity to see a connection with themselves and institutions they attended," said Brett Lachance, a Huskie track and field athlete. "Images such as this new Huskie logo allow me to not only see my cultural and student-athlete lives intertwine but, the logo is also positive change in response to all of the stories. I'm grateful to be a part of a team and organization where I can represent both my culture and team with the same logo.
"I have talked to many Indigenous people who have come before me who have walked the halls of universities or competed on their teams, that have not felt accepted or connected as an Indigenous person," Lachance continued. "The symbolism within this Huskie logo fills me with pride and a feeling of hope that change is possible, and through understanding of truth, so can reconciliation be."
The 2022-23 season saw the creation of the Huskie Athletics Indigenous Student-Athlete Group with the goal of creating actionable reconciliation for Huskie student-athletes, coaches, and administration. Their voices have brought Indigenous language and song into Huskie Athletics, through the playing of the Métis anthem and the singing of the national anthem in Cree and English at events. The council has amplified the voices of our Indigenous student-athletes, creating spaces and educational opportunities within Huskie Athletics and amongst their peers.
"To be able to witness and see firsthand the steps that USask has taken to uphold their commitment to Truth and Reconciliation is something I am proud of. Being able to see the change is very powerful to me. As a First Nation Huskie student-athlete, I am honored and grateful to the university for their acknowledgment of such an important issue. I am honoured to be a part of such an amazing Huskie family!", said Rosetta Cyr, Huskie women's volleyball student-athlete.
For more information on Huskie Athletics and our path to Truth & Reconciliation, visit www.huskies.usask.ca.
About the artist:
Wapikihew (wah-pi-kih-hue) – white eagle
A First Nations artist born in Meadow Lake, SK. From age three to 17, Chris was raised in the reserve known as Red Pheasant First Nation. He was a self-taught artist who first learned about art through coloring book, eventually replacing his coloring in these books with recreating the images he saw onto separate pieces of paper. He gained an eye for the shapes and thick black lines from these images. Growing up on reserve allowed Chris to see the wildlife from his front yard. Animal teachings are something that always stuck with him, especially now as an educator, he uses animal teachings for youth to gain an understanding of life experiences and values through animals. Throughout his art journey and teaching career, storytelling has always been a self-proclaimed gift that allows him to create visuals and draw connections to others' experiences. Chris graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Education and he currently teaches in Saskatoon, SK. Over the past few years, Chris has designed artwork as a hobby, but has also been commissioned for work with Team Sask NAIG, Polaris Music Prize, Crave TV. Aside from his career, he focuses on his art and on a new chapter in his life of starting a family.