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In His Own Words: Cody Jamieson on Every Child Matters, Lacrosse and Indigenous Culture

Cody Jamieson: Halifax Thunderbirds veteran forward and captain. 2010 first overall draft pick. 3x NLL champion. 2012 and ’13 NLL Cup MVP and 2014 NLL MVP and All-Pro First Team. 307 goals and 855 points in 174 career games.

Haudenosaunee Nationals player and 3x world indoor championship silver medalist. 2011 All-World Team. Game winning goal in 2009 NCAA championship. From Six Nations, Ontario, home of the successful junior A Arrows and senior A Chiefs. Outspoken First Nations athlete.

NLL.com interviewed Jamieson during the lead-up to Halifax’s Week 11 game at Rochester about his interest in social issues like equity, honour and respect, and his involvement in the Every Child Matters movement, which aims to create awareness around the forcible placement of Indigenous children into residential and boarding schools in Canada and the U.S., as part of the NLL Unites initiative.

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NLL.com: You’re one of the leaders of the Every Child Matters movement in the NLL. What’s your interest in ECM, how did you get involved and why is it important to you?

CJ: “Growing up on my reserve, we were told stories about the days of residential schools. The Mohawk Institute Residential School is only 15 minutes away from my house. It was closed in 1970. There is a lot of trauma caused by these schools close to me. I also have young children of my own now. To imagine them being taken away from me and not being able to see them or protect them is heart breaking. That is what happened. They were stolen away and sometimes never came home.”

NLL.com: The Thunderbirds have seven Indigenous/First Nations/Native American players on the roster. How does it feel to see that, which is approximately one-third of an NLL team?

CJ: “It makes you feel more comfortable having people you know and have grown up with around the team. It goes to show the amount of talent our people have. And it is great to see more of our people playing professional lacrosse. It is a big commitment and sacrifices have to be made to compete at the highest level. Seeing more and more Haudenosaunee players in the league is great.”

NLL.com: Speaking of teammates, your foundation TeamEights provides school kids in underprivileged communities with an opportunity to learn fundamental lacrosse skills and tools to live an active lifestyle while stressing core values of equity, honour and respect, and the Indigenous history behind the game. How important is it to share the Creator’s Game and its lessons?

CJ: “Lacrosse has many lessons that can be taught and learned throughout the game. I was fortunate to play at a young age and fall in love early with this game. I know what kind of power this game can have, and I love passing it on to the next generation.”

NLL.com: What’s the link between ECM, Indigenous/First Nations/Native American cultures and lacrosse, how important is that connection, and how do you honour that?

CJ: “The link is that we are still here and thriving. Being on the same platform as the others, representing our families, our communities and our culture. The residential schools were designed to assimilate Indigenous, First Nations and Native American culture and heritage. Us continuing to play lacrosse at the highest level is giving respect to those who came before us and fought to give us these opportunities. It is now our job to do the same for those coming after us.”

NLL.com: Orange is the representative colour of the ECM movement. You wore orange at Syracuse of course and there’s orange trim on the Halifax Thunderbirds jerseys. Coincidence or not?

CJ: “The colour has kind of followed me or vice-versa a lot longer than that. My junior teams in Six Nations were orange. You know what they say, ‘Look good, feel good, play good!’”

NLL.com: Speaking of those Thunderbirds jerseys, they’re also purple, the colour of the Haudenosaunee flag and its lacrosse teams, have Indigenous shoulder patches and last season Halifax wore special ECM jerseys with survivor’s handprints. Do you also feel good and play well in purple?

CJ: “Purple has been one of my favourite colours since I was a child. I love the look of our Thunderbirds jerseys. Although I don’t think the jersey has a direct influence on how well I play lacrosse, I do think we have one of the best looks in the NLL.”

NLL.com: How does it feel to be part of a league, the NLL, and an Indigenous-owned team in Halifax that shows respect and a consistent move toward reconciliation with Indigenous, First Nations and Native American peoples through annual ECM campaigns and more importantly the ongoing movement?

CJ: “I feel like our owner Curt Styres does a great job is creating awareness and supporting people and communities in need. The league has done more in creating awareness through different campaigns. It feels good knowing that people have your back on these issues and support the causes.”

NLL.com: Saturday night in Rochester is American Indian Heritage Night on the last weekend of the NLL’s 2023 ECM campaign and the Thunderbirds are there to face the Knighthawks (7pm ET; TSN+/ESPN+). Considering your history in Rochester with the original Knighthawks franchise, how special is that and have things somehow come full circle?

CJ: “I have always appreciated how the people of Rochester have supported the team and the campaigns. I have a lot of friends there so it’s always good to go back and see some familiar faces.”

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