A $6,000 cheque was gifted to the community of Kahnawake by the Montreal Alouettes at their home game this Monday.
Half of the proceeds will go toward supporting minor football players, with the other half going toward next year’s local Orange Shirt Day event. The donation came out of an auction of orange jerseys worn by the team in their warmups to their September 30 game against the Ottawa Redblacks. It’s a gesture that’s been in the works ever since four of the team’s players came to visit Kahnawake for a scrimmage with minor football players last month, Alouettes CEO Mark Weightman said.
“We wanted to do something more tangible. We wanted to make sure we were also reaching out to the community, and trying to do something more than just raising awareness,” he said. “When we reached out to the community leaders in Kahnawake, one of the things they proposed was that it go toward their amateur football.”
Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chief Harry Rice said the money will go toward alleviating registration costs for parents. He said it’s more costly for them to get their kids involved in the sport, since practices with the Chateauguay Raiders are only held outside the community.
“We have to pay what’s called a non-residence fee when our children go out to play in Chateauguay, because we have no minor football teams here,” said Rice. He was also there for the Alouettes game Monday, where they won 29-3 against the Ottawa Redblacks.
MCK chiefs Jessica Lazare and Ross Montour, Orange Shirt Day organizers Helen Jarvis Montour and Curran Jacobs, and minor football players and their families were also invited to attend. Carol Boyer Jacobs came along with her 14-year-old grandson Jack.
“It was fun, even though it was raining,” she said. “They were excited. My grandson’s an Alouettes’ fan. I’ve been supporting him in all his football endeavours, so when he wanted me to go along with him, we just dressed for the occasion and we went. We had a good time.”
It was during halftime that the group was called out to come down to the field.
“They called us down, announcing our names on the loudspeaker. They had our picture up on the screens,” Rice said. “It was pretty cool.”
For Jarvis Montour, it was her first time ever attending an Alouettes game. “I was there holding the big orange blanket, the kids were standing there and they were holding the cheque,” she said. “It was really nice.”
Montour said the funds will go toward the gifts, like the teddy bears and blankets, that will be handed out next year as part of their annual Orange Shirt Day birthday celebration.
“I do this for my father because he was a residential school survivor. If it wasn’t for him and his resilience, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said. “All the survivors said the same thing: that’s the best gift they ever got, those teddy bears.”
This article was originally published in print on Friday, October 13, in issue 32.41 of The Eastern Door.