A longtime resident of Kahnawake, Deer also works as a graphic designer, cultural spokesperson and librarian at the Kanien’kehá:ka Onkwawén:na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Center.
Dear didn’t expect the Canadiens to take advantage of his creative talents, but he’s proud of it.
“It was kind of a shock when I got this call, but when I got to work it reminded me how much I miss hockey,” said Deer, who was a well-known illustrator for Transformers, Joe Joe, Godzilla, MASK, Micronauts, Ghostbusters, Star Trek and Star Wars. “I wish I could tell a six-year-old that one day I will be asked to be creative at the Montreal Canadiens. I was such a big Habs fan in the early 1980s.”
Deere is proud that the organization celebrates Aboriginal culture in addition to raising funds to support Indigenous youth in Quebec, as all proceeds from Auction of these warm-up t-shirts will be donated New Ways Foundation.
“It’s great that Canadians are making this a priority. The connection between indigenous peoples and hockey is strong, at least in my community,” Deere said. “After having been involved in hockey for so long, receiving this recognition will be a very special moment for Indigenous fans. »
The concept of the “Deer” sweater was created in the spirit of peace, friendship and reconciliation.
He provided us with a brief explanation of the main concepts of his creation:
one. Double row wampum
“Wampum belts are mnemonic items created to commemorate important events, stories, treaties, and laws. They were made from tubular shell beads that were woven together to form patterns that symbolized a specific message.
The two-row wampum was the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and European settlers. Called Tékeni Teiohá:te, it is a wampum belt made of two rows of purple beads against a background of white beads. One row depicts Europeans in a sailing boat, and in the other, ours in a canoe. Together we will travel side by side on the river of life, never crossing each other’s paths. This metaphor represents the relationship we want to have with European settlers based on peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and non-interference. »
2. Covenant chain
“As our experience of colonialism continued, the Haudenosaunee, commonly referred to as the ‘Iroquois’, developed a new relationship with European settlers called the Covenant Chain, symbolized by two figures holding a chain between them. The Covenant Chain is a continuation of the Two Row Wampum relationship and talks about how we must resolve conflicts and disputes between our two peoples so that peace and justice will prevail. In a sense, this chain connects our two boats.
Over time, the Covenant Chain expanded beyond the Haudenosaunee as other Onkwehon peoples: we (natives) had our own link in the chain. »
3. flint arrow
For Deer, the inclusion of a flint arrow in an embroidered shoulder patch is a good way to pay homage to his community, as the name Kanien’kehá:ka, commonly referred to as Mohawk, means “People of Flint”. language. In many indigenous cultures, arrowheads symbolize strength, courage, and protection from evil forces. They also represent a person’s ability to survive in the dangers of the world around them.
4. ceramic pattern
The pottery designs that appear on the Canadiens logo and player numbers are inspired by traditional Iroquois pottery, usually carved from unglazed clay. It highlights the artistic talent, know-how, and ancestral and contemporary customs that link indigenous peoples to the land.
five. Orange color
The color of the shirt was chosen in honor of Orange Shirt Day, first established in 2013 to raise awareness and educate the public about the boarding school system and its enduring impact on survivors, their families and indigenous communities. Although this Saturday is a day of celebration at the Bell Centre, Deer adds that “orange is the color associated with the Every Child Matters movement and we also wanted to remember the victims. »
The Montreal Canadiens does not claim ownership of the indigenous cultural symbols used in the work created by Thomas Dear and respects the Kanien’keh:ka’s jurisdiction over these symbols.