The Humber Hawks men’s and women’s rugby teams are wearing jerseys designed by a youth-run Indigenous streetwear brand that merges traditional Indigenous aesthetics with an urban twist.
Humber College Athletic Director Ray Chateau said it was time to replace the College’s rugby jerseys. The Athletics department has been actively supporting Indigenous Education and Engagement (IE&E) and the new jersey design is an extension of the ongoing partnership.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to honour the historic lands Humber is situated on and on which the games are played,” said Chateau. “This action is in response to Humber Athletics’ own calls to action and how sport can specifically support Truth and Reconciliation.”
Chateau also noted the significance of unveiling the jerseys prior to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“Having our jerseys ready to wear within the month of Orange Shirt Day on September 30 is important because it’s another action of braiding Indigenous ways of being, knowing and doing into all we do at Humber,” Chateau continued. “This partnership with the Indigenous community and IE&E is an example of Athletics implementing Humber’s Indigenous education plan.”
Chateau brought the idea to IE&E who connected him with Tribal Lands. The brand is driven by Indigenous youth from urban communities and profits are reinvested into programming for the youth. It’s a Native Youth Resource Centre initiative, which is part of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.
The collaboration resulted in a custom-designed rugby team jersey that blends the Tribal Lands aesthetics with the spirit of the Humber Hawks.
The Humber 'H' is prominently displayed on the right arm sleeve, symbolizing the team's identity. On the front, an image of a hawk captures the spirit of strength and resilience. Additionally, the shirt nape features the iconic Tribal Lands tipi logo, accompanied by the brand's slogan, 'Still Here'.
Tribal Lands says these elements serve as a testament to the enduring presence and cultural heritage of Indigenous communities.
“When the Tribal Lands team first learned about Humber's interest in collaboration, excitement stirred,” said Tribal Lands Staff Liason Eva Francis-Work. “It's not every day that an academic institution displays such a strong commitment to engaging with and supporting Indigenous initiatives. Humber's dedication to fostering creativity and cultural expression aligned perfectly with Tribal Lands' mission. This was seen as an incredible opportunity to bridge the gap between education and real-world impact, creating a dynamic synergy that could bring positive change to the community.”
Francis-Work said the designs created by the team are a source of immense pride and carry the rich cultural heritage and contemporary creativity of Indigenous youth.
“Each design is a powerful expression of the team's identity and the fusion of traditional aesthetics with modern urban influences,” said Francis-Work. “These designs have the potential to resonate with a broad audience while also serving as a reminder of the importance of cultural preservation and artistic innovation.”
The jerseys were debuted on September 16 by the men's and women's rugby teams. At half time of the men's team's home opener against Seneca College on September 22, Tribal Lands will be presented with a framed jersey and will be recognized for the design and its collaboration with Humber.