The next generation of hockey stars from around the world will get an opportunity to take home a unique piece of hardware at this year's World Junior Hockey Championships — hand-painted sticks by Cree artist Jason Carter.
"To have them be presented with a piece of my work to represent their hard work, their life longdream of playing at the World Juniors, is pretty remarkable and totally humbling for me," said Carter, who is from Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta.
This year's IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship is being hosted by Canada and games will be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., beginning on Dec. 26.
Earlier this year, Hockey Canada asked Carter to design 150 hockey sticks, which will be given out as "player of the game" awards, as well as to dignitaries for the sporting event.
Carter, who is an Edmonton Oilers fan, called the opportunity "an absolute honour" and applauds Hockey Canada for incorporating Indigenous culture into this year's World Juniors.
"I think it's important to share Indigenous Peoples' artwork [and our culture] with the world," said Carter, who is also a sculptor.
Riley Wiwchar, executive director of the World Junior Championship at Hockey Canada, said 31 games will be played and that sticks will be given to one "player of the game" from each team, totalling 62 sticks.
"A number of players will end up with a memento to take home with them and be able to share that story and that culture," said Wiwchar.
Wiwchar said gestures like this will hopefully inspire more youth to get involved in the game regardless of where they're from.