The struggles Indigenous youth face in the hockey community is nothing new to Harlan Kingfisher.
That’s why the engineer from Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan created Smudge The Blades.
“I know exactly how the struggles were with hockey fees and hockey equipment,” said the former junior and college-level player.
Smudge The Blades sells hockey gear that incorporates First Nations culture.
The brand ships across Canada, and donates proceeds to help cover hockey fees for First Nation families.
Support and feedback
“It’s really great to see so much support and feedback from parents and community members,” Kingfisher, a father of four, told APTN News.
The entrepreneur is also using his platform to instill pride.
On his company’s Facebook page, he shares stories from young hockey players.
One of them is Keagan G. of Rolling River First Nation in Manitoba.
The 16-year-old high school hockey player said he almost quit the sport last month after parents and spectators yelled racist slurs at him.
“It didn’t make me feel too well,” he said. “I just kept it to myself and just texted my mom what happened.”
Keagan’s father Roger Brightnose said Smudge The Blades is helping create awareness about the damage anti-Indigenous racism is causing in the sport.
“That was really good to create some awareness for [Keagan’s] story – not only for him but for others as well,” he said.