It was big news in March of 2018 when Ethan Bear, who is from the Ochapowace First Nation in southeastern Saskatchewan, made his NHL debut. Two years later, Bear, a defenceman for the Edmonton Oilers, made headlines again, this time for honouring his First Nation heritage by wearing a jersey with his name set in Cree syllabics, ᒪᐢᑿ, on the nameplate.
The Oilers tweeted a statement from Bear before the game:
I will be wearing it for all those Indigenous players who came before me and those Indigenous kids dreaming of play in the NHL.
Bear played about 19 and a half minutes in a 4-1 exhibition win over the Calgary Flames in the “Battle of Alberta.”
The Cree language, which comprises a series of dialects of Algonquin languages, is spoken by roughly 117,000 people in Canada, making it the most spoken of the country’s aboriginal languages.