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Canucks First Nations jersey is a tribute to Gino Odjick designed by his cousin

Both during and after his hockey career, Gino Odjick devoted much of his time to inspiring Indigenous youth in Canada.
Vancouver Canucks defenceman Ethan Bear wears the team's First Nations Celebration jersey designed by Jay Odjick.

Both during and after his hockey career, Gino Odjick devoted much of his time to inspiring Indigenous youth in Canada. He traveled across Canada, visiting Indigenous communities and holding workshops to mentor young people and encourage them to follow their dreams — not just in hockey but in life.

That focus on community is one of the reasons why Odjick became so popular with the Vancouver Canucks. It wasn’t just his willingness to take on anyone in a fight or scrum, though that was borne of a sort of community-mindedness as well, defending his teammates at all costs — it was his connection to the people. He always had time for everyone.

Odjick serves as the inspiration as well for the Canucks’ special warm-up jersey for the team’s First Nations Celebration night on March 2. 

The design incorporates a Thunderbird, a powerful spirit in Indigenous myth, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. The Thunderbird is paired with the dynamic flying skate Canucks logo that Odjick wore so proudly for the Canucks during his career.

The shoulder patch is based on the medicine wheel, which represents the balance of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements in health and well-being. It’s ringed with eight feathers, representing Odjick’s eight seasons with the Canucks. 

On the back, the numbers feature a traditional Anishinabe design.

The jersey was designed by Odjick’s cousin, artist Jay Odjick, who previously designed a logo for the Ottawa Senators.  

Jay Odjick is primarily a comic book artist and created the Anishinabe superhero Kagagi, aka. The Raven, turning it from a graphic novel into an animated series, which aired in both the English and Algonquin languages. Gino provided a voice for one of the characters on the animated series and Jay shared how much that meant to him in a Facebook post when Gino passed away.

Challenged by producers to find a “big name” for the show and with a limited budget, Jay reached out to his cousin, who said yes without hesitation. Even while dealing with his AL amyloidosis diagnosis and not given much time to live, Gino still kept his commitment, voicing a warrior spirit for the show, then promptly donating his paycheck to charity.

When Gino was receiving treatment, Jay visited him to thank him for helping out the show.

“I was taken aback by his condition at that time. I thought maybe I was saying goodbye, is the best way I can put it,” recalled Jay in his post. “He was tired and I wanted to let him rest so I made it quick and thanked him. He looked me in the eye and this is what he said, in its entirety, verbatim because I will never forget it: ‘This will be good for kids?’

“Yeah, cuz. I promise this will be good for kids.”

Even in the hospital, fighting for his life, Gino wanted to inspire Indigenous youth. There is no one more deserving of Jay’s fantastic tribute jersey design than his cousin.

According to the Vanbase website, "Proceeds from the sale of the First Nations Collection will go to Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations youth programs."