Oilers Ethan Bear honours First Nations heritage with Cree nameplate

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.