The Coquitlam Express is honouring the city’s Indigenous roots with a special jersey players will wear March 9, in a contest against the Surrey Eagles at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex.
The game is also being promoted as kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation Night.
Express general manager Tali Campbell said the BC Hockey League (BCHL) team has close ties with the area’s Indigenous community.
"We are fortunate to have so many passionate Indigenous fans who represent a vital part of the fabric of our club," he said in a statement on the team’s website, adding players will continue to wear the special jersey next season as well.
The predominantly black jersey that fades to grey on the sleeves, features a crest of swimming salmon designed by Indigenous artist Corrine Hunt, who’s from the Tlingit Nations on Vancouver Island.
Hunt, who comes from a family of artists, is perhaps best known as a co-creator of the medals awarded to athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver that featured stylized designs of a killer whale and a raven.
She also designed the logo for the 2006 World Peace Forum in Vancouver, along with installations at the Hilton Hotel in Whistler and at the Office for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
The promotion is just the latest in a series of community outreach initiatives taken by the Express since Campbell was hired as the team’s new GM, shortly after it was acquired by Burnaby hotelier Fayaz Manji.
Campbell, who took on the position two years ago when he was just 25 years old, said the importance of the hockey team forging strong ties into the community is something he learned as a young fan of the Nanaimo Clippers when he was growing up in that Vancouver Island city.
He said he has fond memories of the team’s players coming to his school to read to students and play a little floor hockey.
"These guys were like gods," Campbell said. "That’s where my love for the game started."
The efforts also pay off for the players, as they learn to become responsible young men, he added.
Since getting back to a semblance of a normal schedule after the 2020-21 season was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the team to host a five-week bubble season in Burnaby with no fans, Campbell’s been announcing new initiatives regularly.
- a partnership with the Tri-Cities Predators female hockey association to boost opportunities for young women in hockey
- a volunteer effort by the team’s players to clean up local parks as well as a stretch of Poirier Street where its home arena is located
- special nights honouring veterans and breast cancer awareness
- launched an anti-bullying campaign
Last week, the Express hosted a special fundraising night to boost the efforts of team captain Ryan Tattle to collecting money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
It brought in more than $20,000.
As well, the team has allowed kids under 18 to attend games for free since the beginning of the season.
"Every decision I make is from the heart," Campbell said of his commitment to community.
The Express will debut the jersey Wednesday, March 9 when they drop the puck with Surrey at 7 p.m.