Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Vancouver Bandits unveiled a new Indigenous-themed jersey in their home contest held Sunday, June 25, dubbed Indigenous Celebration Night.
But for members of the Bandits, who compete in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL), the plan is not to simply just wear the jersey once.
Vancouver players will also wear the Indigenous jersey, designed by Jeff Dickson, an artist from Kwantlen First Nation in British Columbia, for several other matches during the remainder of the 2023 CEBL season.
“I’m extremely, extremely proud,” said Dickson, who is also a teacher at Walnut Grove Secondary School in Langley, B.C. “I didn’t want it to be a one-time thing. I wanted a legacy thing.”
Dickson is no stranger to officials with the Bandits, a franchise that is participating in its fifth season of the CEBL, a pro circuit with 10 squads across the country.
Two years ago, Dickson had been asked to add some tweaks to the Bandits’ original logo. His changes were inspired by local First Nations culture, histories and the geography of the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver regions.
The Bandits play their home contests at the Langley Events Centre. The city of Langley is a municipality in the Metro Vancouver Regional District.
Besides enlisting Dickson to alter the team logo, the Bandits also forged a partnership with the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreational Council, the governing body of Indigenous athletics and recreation in B.C., to work on the changes.
Dickson’s logo features a fox with a mask, appearing to be removed, which represents the taking off of masks humans wear as they move towards truth and reconciliation.
Also, the fox ear in the logo represents the Golden Ears mountains, located within the traditional territory where the Bandits play. And the eye on the logo includes a rounded pupil, representing the eye opening to truth and reconciliation.
Dickson said his logo has been well received the past couple of years.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” he said.
Dickson kept in close contact with Bandits’ reps.
“We were talking and we wanted to take it to the next level and introduce a third jersey,” he said.
The Bandits’ already had a white jersey and a black jersey. But the team’s Dickson-designed new jersey is orange, which reflects Orange Shirt Day, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, commemorated on Sept. 30 in Canada.
The Vancouver club will only wear either their black or new orange jerseys for the remainder of this season.
Inspired by Kwantlen and Coast Salish art, Dickson incorporated cedar trees and foxes into his jersey design. He also designed new team shorts with the Indigenous themes.
The visiting Calgary Surge downed the host Bandits 93-88 in Sunday’s contest. Though the host Bandits were unable to register a victory, another local group did end up winning.
The Lower Fraser Valley Aboriginal Society (LFVAS) received the proceeds from the Bandits’ 50/50 draw held at the match. The jackpot was worth $3,370, so the team will donate $1,685 to the LFVAS.
The society provides services for those who are preschoolers to Elders. These services include personal support and family programs and educational support systems.
The Bandits will also provide a portion of the sale of their Indigenous jerseys to the LFVAS. Team officials plan to announce how many jerseys they sell at the end of the current season.
The jerseys can be purchased at Bandits’ home contests. They are also available online at https://www.atobball.com/collections/vancouver-bandits
A couple of weeks before their Indigenous Celebration Night, Bandits’ reps, including the players, visited Kwantlen First Nation to learn about the significance of the new team jersey and about some Indigenous culture and history.
“Literally everybody showed up,” Dickson said, adding the Bandits’ contingent consisted of about 30 individuals. “It brought a lot of people together.”
Dylan Kular, the president of the Vancouver franchise, is pleased with the appearance of the new Bandits’ jersey.
“It has been a privilege to pause and reflect on what these jerseys represent and to understand the depth of their symbolism,” he said.
“They are a testament to the beauty and sophistication of Coast Salish artistry, and I know that our players and fans will wear these jerseys with pride.”
Besides Vancouver and Calgary, other league entrants in the CEBL this season are Brampton Honey Badgers, Ottawa BlackJacks, Scarborough Shooting Stars, Niagara River Lions, Montreal Alliance, Edmonton Stingers, Winnipeg Sea Bears and Saskatchewan Rattlers.
Vancouver will host the CEBL championships this year, scheduled from Aug. 11 to Aug. 13. As hosts, the Bandits will receive an automatic berth into the semi-finals.
Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.