The holidays are just around the corner, and if you’re anything like us, then pretty much everyone on our list is a hockey fan. We’re not quite able to cover a jersey for everyone on our shopping list this year, and tickets are out of the question for these COVID holidays. However, we think we just discovered a site which has something for every hockey lover that won’t just look great, but will also give back to a great cause.
Enter Smudge the Blades, which is an Indigenous-run hockey apparel company that believes ‘First Nations hockey in Canada isn’t just a sport, it’s a cultural celebration’. The brand is the brainchild of Harlan Kingfisher, a father of four from Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, which is about 150 kms north of Saskatoon.
Kingfisher told CBC that "We take pride in our First Nation hockey, that's one thing that brings us together." He went on to explain that the name ‘Smudge the Blades’ is inspired by his own ritual before hockey games, which was to use sweetgrass and smudge his hockey stick and skates in order to play well. In many First Nations cultures, smudging is a tradition that is used to purify or cleanse using the four sacred plants - cedar, sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco. Kingfisher has come up with some awesome designs to launch.
Kingfisher grew up playing in First Nations hockey tournaments, where he remembers the passionate support from local crowds, among many other positive hockey memories. However, he also remembers how expensive the sport was, and wants to help alleviate costs to help more Indigenous people get involved in the sport. On Smudge the Blades’ website, he writes the following:
I’m Harlan Kingfisher a husband, a dad of 4 and First Nations hockey player from Sturgeon Lake Saskatchewan. Playing hockey growing up and eventually moving around Canada playing junior and college hockey had such a positive impact on my life. I learned life skills from hockey that helped me to grow into the father, husband and man I am today.
First Nations hockey in Canada isn’t just a sport it’s a cultural celebration. Nothing beats a game where the stands are packed with fans cheering for their home Rez, pow wow playing on the speakers before plays, bannock and stew being served at the concession, sweetgrass getting lit and smudging the sticks before a big game. Hockey is good medicine and that’s where I got the idea for Smudge the blades apparel.
I want to celebrate First Nations hockey and be able to bring laughter and pride when wearing your Smudge the Blades gear. It’s also my dream to be able to give back to the First Nation hockey community so that it can have the same positive impact on other Native kids that it had on me. A portion of the proceeds will be given back to help First Nation youth across Canada purchase new hockey equipment so they can have a chance to Smudge, Snipe and Celly.
The brand has a wide selection of designs that features Cree syllabics and other clever sayings, and we definitely need to get our hands on a piece or two before the holidays.
We highly recommend you do the same!
(H/T: CBC and IG/Smudge the Blades)