Calgary

Flames say they're talking to Treaty 7 nations about land acknowledgement

The Calgary Flames are the only Canadian team in the NHL that doesn't include an Indigenous land acknowledgement at their home games before play starts. 

All other Canadian NHL teams include a pre-game land statement

A large crowd of fans mostly dressed in red Calgary Flames jerseys are cheering in their seats at the Calgary Saddledome arena.
In a statement, the Calgary Flames said they're in conversation with the nations of Treaty 7 regarding a land acknowledgement and initiatives such as the Flames Indigenous Celebration Game, which is slated for next month. (Oseremen Irete/CBC)

The Calgary Flames are the only Canadian team in the NHL that doesn't include an Indigenous land acknowledgement before the puck hits the ice.

Jordie Mark, a Chiniki First Nation councillor, says that if the team reached out to the nations of Treaty 7 about incorporating a land acknowledgement into the pre-game ceremony, it would earn his respect, and perhaps make him more than an on-again, off-again fan. 

"To me, respect is earned. It's not what you say, it's what you do. So if they'd reached out that way … they'd gain my respect," he said Tuesday on the Calgary Eyeopener.

When asked for comment, the team released a statement, saying it's in conversation with the Treaty 7 nations regarding a land acknowledgement and initiatives such as the Flames Indigenous Celebration Game, which is slated for next month.


Making the case for a traditional land acknowledgement at Calgary Flames games. We speak to a councillor from the Chiniki First Nation.

 "It is important that we continue to learn from these conversations and ensure we speak with all seven nations prior to any formal announcement," the team's statement said. 

The Flames didn't specify which nations they have spoken with regarding a land acknowledgement, nor did they give details on the state of those conversations. 

Land acknowledgements in the NHL 

The first Canadian professional hockey teams to incorporate land acknowledgements were the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators. Both began doing so in 2019. 

Roughly two years later, for the 2021-22 season, the Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers followed suit. 

Why the Calgary Flames are not part of that list is surprising to Mark.

"I'm amazed they've never done it," he said. 

The long-form reading of the Treaty 7 territory land acknowledgement is fewer than 120 words, and it takes less than a minute to say aloud.

Mark said that if the team began each game with a land acknowledgement, it would have an impact on the community, particularly the youth. 

"If I was a kid, hearing that would instill pride in me," he said.

"The youth really need that sense of pride. The sense of this is where I'm from, this is my team. My hockey team."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathon Sharp is a digital journalist with CBC Calgary. He previously worked for CBS News in the United States. You can reach him at jonathon.sharp@cbc.ca.

With files from Elizabeth Withey and Loren McGinnis

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