To mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, Rugby Canada are proud to announce that the training shirts to be worn by Canada’s Men’s and Women’s Sevens Teams in Tokyo will be enhanced with an original Indigenous art design.
June 21, 2021 (Langford, BC) – To mark National Indigenous Peoples Day, Rugby Canada are proud to announce that the training shirts to be worn by Canada’s Men’s and Women’s Sevens Teams in Tokyo will be enhanced with an original Indigenous art design. The custom Thunderbird design was created by Coast Salish/ Tsadzis Nugwame artist, Bradley Dick (Yuxwelupton Qwal'qaxala). Rugby Canada athletes and staff support an inclusive sport society; we hope this collaboration will inspire youth in diverse and Indigenous communities across Canada and lay the groundwork for future opportunities.
Bradley comes from a rugby background himself having played rugby for 9 years throughout school, and then with James Bay AA. Recently, Rugby Canada spoke with him about the design:
Can you tell us the story behind the Thunderbird design?
The design is a Thunderbird, a powerful being in many of the Vancouver Island First Nations. It is said the sun, when it wished to be in relations to being of mother earth, has the ability to transform into a Thunderbird. The Thunderbird is powerful and when flying, when its wings flap, it is believed to cause thunder, and when it opens its eyes, it is believed to cause lightening. It is hoped these attributes and gifts guide the Canadian teams to move like thunder and score tries as quick as lightening.
May they work with foresight like the sun, and shine for our state as they move through this year. May they lead with heart and compassion with the relationship they will form with the Thunderbird.
What does it mean to you to see your design being worn by diverse Canadian athletes as they train toward the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games?
I feel honoured. In our teachings, the sun (known as grandfather) in times of need would turn into a Thunderbird and come to Earth to teach about resources and ways of being. With the strength and swiftness of the Thunderbird, it felt natural to have it represent these diverse teams within the rugby community. The Thunderbird has foresight and the ability to see ahead of itself, and that relates to rugby, which requires a lot of foresight and discipline in how the athletes prepare and practice.
Is this a way to inspire indigenous youth across the country to discover rugby as a sport and activity?
Absolutely. I know there’s some Indigenous teams across Canada such as Thunder Rugby on Vancouver Island. My son actually played and coached with them as well.
Is there a message you want to share with our Canadian sevens players as they prepare to take to the world-stage?
Yes, I’d bring it back to the teachings of one of my favourite coaches throughout my years, Peter Rushton, who taught us humility. He taught us to stay humble in the way we approach the game. We prepare as best we can, play as a team, and leave it all out on the field. Play with respect for your opposition and you will find that respect within yourself. So, my message to the teams is play your heart out, have fun, and display that respect through your actions.
Visit the resources below to learn more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples: