The National Lacrosse League (NLL) today announced the return and expansion of its “Every Child Matters” initiative. The multi-faceted platform brings awareness to the forcible placement of Indigenous children in residential and boarding schools by the Canadian and United States governments from the 19th century to as recently as 1996. This year’s campaign will begin this coming weekend and will run through March 10th.
Now in its third year, all 15 NLL teams will participate in the campaign, including specially designed helmet decals supporting “Every Child Matters” worn by all players for the remainder of the season.
“Our continued work with Indigenous athletes and communities is a major priority for the National Lacrosse League, and the ‘Every Child Matters’ education process and activations are key components of that platform,” said NLL Commissioner Brett Frood. “This program presents an opportunity to facilitate meaningful conversations about the atrocities perpetrated by the residential and boarding school systems, continue the journey toward reconciliation, and honor survivors and their families.”
The “Every Child Matters” initiative is a part of the NLL’s ever-growing participation and awareness programs tied to Indigenous culture, which is at the core of the League’s values and the history of the sport of lacrosse. The work includes educational programs for athletes, coaches, staff, and fans, land acknowledgment ceremonies, and charitable and social responsibility programs to strengthen and enhance the ties between League stakeholders and the Indigenous community.
The NLL will also produce audio and video messaging for broadcasts on TSN and ESPN, and additional content will be incorporated into NLL.com, the League’s social channels, and in-venue game presentations.
Fans will be able to purchase cotton shirts through the league’s online stores, NLLShop.com and NLLStore.ca. For every shirt sold, the NLL will donate to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) in Canada and The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) in the United States.
DWF is inspired by the tragic story of an Indigenous boy, Chanie Wenjack, and the commitment of a modern-day folk singer, Gord Downie. The organization seeks to enhance the well-being of Indigenous peoples through heightened awareness, education, and a reconciliation among all Canadians. NABS is leading the movement for truth, justice, and healing in the U.S. Its work is focused on research, education, and healing, and is currently advocating for legislation in Congress to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Boarding School policies (H.R. 7227).
There were 523 Indigenous boarding schools operating in the U.S. and 130 Indigenous residential schools in Canada, and 13 NLL teams play within a couple hours of one or more of these sites. To learn more about these schools and their locations, please visit https://boardingschoolhealing.org/digitalmap/
The League will continue to use an “Every Child Matters” logo designed by Justin Gilbert of Kuvua Designs. Gilbert was selected due to his work in support of Indigenous organizations and his connection to the cause, being born and raised on the Southern Ute Reservation. The logo contains the silhouette of an Indigenous child wearing a ribbon shirt and holding a traditional wooden lacrosse stick. The text “Every Child Matters” appears next to the image with a heart and feather.