A Cree artist in Edmonton has painted more than 150 hockey sticks for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship to be used as gifts for the most valuable players.
Jason Carter was asked by Hockey Canada to create the unique gift to be given to MVPs after each game for the tournament, which begins Boxing Day in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta.
He agreed to paint 155 sticks. But when the sticks arrived, he had more work to do than he thought.
“It was really just figuring out how to paint on the sticks, because they arrived fully varnished. So I had to remove all of this stick here, and then clear coat it, protect it so I could paint on it and then paint multiple coats of blue,” he said. “So just to get to that point took me a week, week and a half of just managing 155 sticks.”
Carter chose to paint a bear under the northern lights with the mountains in the background.
“They left it up to me as to what I wanted these sticks to look like. And I’m totally inspired by the bear, and I’m inspired by colours, and the beautiful landscapes we have here in Alberta,” he said.
“So it kind of really happened organically. I am always attracted to the bear, what the bear means to me as an Indigenous man, and what it means to everybody. The strength of the bear, the protectiveness, the fortitude.”
These sticks given to MVPs and dignitaries will be taken all over the world.
“It’s pretty cool to know they are going to take a piece back of Canada with them, created by an Indigenous artist that is completely unique. I think this is the first time Hockey Canada has done this. For them it’s going to be something unique, not the usual gift,” said Carter.
“I think in that sense it will stand out as well. It’s pretty exciting for me as a visual artist to be able to create something that is going to have that kind of meaning for these athletes.”
Team Canada is favoured to win the championship.