Keyano Earns CCAA Innovation Award

Posted On Wednesday June 15, 2022

Keyano College, with its Keyano Huskies Indigenous Jersey Reveal, has earned the institution the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Innovation Award.

The CCAA Innovation Award recognizes a member institution that has developed an initiative demonstrating unique marketing, communication or technological advances in its athletic program.

Keyano unveiled its new jerseys on Feb. 18, 2022, during an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) regulars season game, paying homage to the local region’s rich Indigenous culture and history.

“Keyano’s Indigenous jersey initiative is such a unique way to honour their local Indigenous community and further that connection and partnership,” said Joel Mrak, CCAA VP Safe Sport. “The jerseys really tell a story and encourage dialogue from other students, athletes, fans, and colleagues from the local area and across Canada.”

The Indigenous artwork was designed by 20-year-old artist Emma Voyageur, who hails from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. Her inspiration for the jerseys came from her culture, teachings and past experiences as an Indigenous woman.

The volleyball, basketball and soccer jerseys incorporated brilliant colours that are historically powerful in Indigenous culture and are described in their medicine wheel (red, yellow, black and white).

In addition to celebrating two Keyano Huskies victories on the basketball court, the night was a win for the ongoing reconciliation process in Fort McMurray, AB. It put art and culture front and centre in front of a packed house of attendees who were able to share in the experience and learn about each of the different designs and how they were inspired through the artistic process.

Maintaining a connection to the land, which relates to all aspects of life, is extremely important to Indigenous peoples all over Canada. The sky, water, and earth have always been intertwined with indigenous sovereignty, spirituality, and way of life. For those reasons, Voyageur decided to create a landscape for each of the jerseys; with one dedicated to fire tones, water tones, and earth tones.

The connection and empowerment are the messages behind the jerseys, which represent hard work, determination, pride and honour.

Keyano College worked in collaboration with the Athletics Department, Continuing Education Department, Indigenous Education, Marketing Department and First Nation stakeholders.

“The purpose of the project was to showcase the cultural creativity and further strengthen the bond between the college and the Indigenous roots of the region,” said Jonathan Lambert, Director, Athletics & Recreation at Keyano. “With ongoing reconciliation, a top priority at Keyano College, it was a way to put the conversation of Indigenous issues in the spotlight while also providing learning moments and growth for student athletes, who come to Fort McMurray from around Canada, North America, and the globe.”

The debut of the jerseys also sparked demand within the community as many wanted to showcase these jerseys in their businesses and homes. Additional sets of all three jerseys were eventually ordered and are presently being sold through the bookstore. A percentage of the sales from these additional ordered jerseys will be directed to an Indigenous Student Athletic Scholarship, helping provide further opportunities to Indigenous students.

Additionally, as part of the program, all student-athletes, coaches and athletic staff at Keyano also completed the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) Indigenous learning series which was made up of a couple one-hour modules: Indigenous Awareness & Moving Towards Reconciliation. This helped promote to student-athletes and staff a better understanding of the land upon which they grow as well as a better perception of the surrounding environment.

Lambert accepted the CCAA Innovation Award at the 2022 CCAA Hall of Fame Banquet in Halifax, NS.


CCAA Media Contact:
Rodney Wilson /
Manager, Communications & Events


For reveal video please go to

For artist bio and design inspiration go to Keyano Huskies Indigenous Jersey Reveal