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Coast Salish artist raises awareness of Canadian history with new pro soccer jersey design

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Victoria’s professional football team is sporting a new kit this week, featuring designs by Coast Salish artist Maynard Johnny Jr.

Johnny hopes his bold designs, printed in black on a white shirt, will spark conversations among viewers.

“I think somehow they’re going to be told the significance of the shirt,” he said. All points west host Robyn Burns.

The design features salmon, which Johnny says isn’t the fiercest creature. However, he says the salmon are incredibly resilient, as are the native peoples.

Coast Salish artist Maynard Johnny Jr. designed Pacific FC’s new alternate uniforms. (Pacific FC photographer Sheldon Mack)

“The fact that the Indian Act was created, the fact that the residential school was created, the fact that the potluck ban happened, the fact that the Sixties Scoop happened,” said he said.

“Anything else that could have happened in history to oppress us, to kill us. We are resilient, just like the salmon. We have come this far.”

A child is also depicted, representing the commitment to creating a better future for the next generation of Indigenous children.

“The Pacific FC Alternate Macron 2022 Shirt is an incredibly meaningful design this season,” the team said in a match report on Monday, the day the shirts were unveiled. The team said they were honored to wear the design and say it is a reminder that much more needs to be done for truth and reconciliation.

Johnny hopes that when the team hits the road, people in other cities will wonder about the jerseys and from there learn the meaning of the design.

“Sometimes you have to acknowledge and realize the deep and dark history of Canada and its Indigenous peoples,” he said. “That’s the beauty of art – it raises the questions and lets you feel comfortable enough to ask questions or find out how you can get the answers yourself.”

As Pacific FC visits other communities for games this season, artist Maynard Johnny Jr. hopes spectators will take notice of the new jerseys, leading them to discover the inspiration behind them and, ultimately, the treatment story. Indigenous peoples in Canada. (Pacific FC photographer Sheldon Mack)

And a lot of people will see the jerseys. The club sold out the first run and had to set up pre-orders for the second.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these Johnny-designed sweaters and scarves will be shared between Hope and Health and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, two organizations dear to the artist.

Johnny’s parents and grandparents attended residential school, and he now has his own grandchildren whom he hopes will have a brighter future, beginning with meaningful acts of truth and reconciliation.

“Canadians must be the change,” he said. “Canada as a whole must come to terms with the history of what Canada has inflicted on Indigenous peoples.”