Kerry Galusha finds new voice on curling’s national stage
“People are taking notice a lot more. Every time I go onto my phone or some social media platform, I’m very overwhelmed.”
Kerry Galusha had some good results at her 18th national curling championship appearance this week, even if they weren’t enough to reach the final stages. But what happened off the ice may be more important.
Galusha had already begun speaking more openly about reconciliation and her father’s time at a residential school. With this year’s Scotties taking place in Kamloops, the site of recent searches for the unmarked graves of children who attended residential school, she wanted to do more.
“Coming to Kamloops, we wanted to do something special, because Kamloops was kind-of where Canada took notice of residential schools and started learning more,” she said.
That turned into a campaign to raise money for the Native Women’s Association of Canada using NWT hoodies bearing a Gwich’in-language message translated by the team as “one land, many voices.”
“We bought the hoodies for friends and family at the Scotties, but we had a lot of interest,” Galusha said.
“We got them when we got to Kamloops and posted a picture. Right away, people started asking how they could get one.”
Soon, apparel firm Dynasty Curling was selling the hoodies online. $10 from every sale goes to the Native Women’s Association.
The black hoodies carry a white polar-bear emblem alongside the letters NT, the northern lights, and a red hand within a stylized sun.
Team Galusha’s alternate, Megan Koehler, had the original idea. The team then asked Kyra McDonald, an Inuvik student who has just finished representing the NWT in hockey at the Arctic Winter Games, to create the design.
McDonald said she used her free time at the games – held this year in Fort McMurray – to work on the art, sending ideas back and forth with the team.
“When they said they wanted some NWT concepts, I immediately thought of the polar bear and northern lights,” McDonald told Cabin Radio. “We were all working together as a team to design the hoodies.”
“People are just really intrigued by the design,” said Galusha, adding that her week promoting the cause had opened the eyes of viewers in various ways.
“I’ve had a lot of messages from Indigenous people who didn’t know I was Indigenous. It’s very inspirational to get messages from people like that,” she said.
“The last few years, I’ve been trying to be a bit more outspoken about reconciliation, residential schools and even my own personal background.
“Our family has been hugely impacted by residential schools. My dad went to residential school, so I’ve learned a lot about it and it’s impacted us all. It’s something we kind-of ignored growing up and, now that I’m older, I try to talk about it a little bit more. My dad is very open about it and Canadians are more open about it than they used to be.”
The Galusha rink’s campaign coincided with a return to the full Scotties, not the previous pandemic-affected experience where athletes were kept in bubbles, no fans were allowed, and even interviews with reporters could only happen by phone.
“This year there are fans and family, the media is here, and people are taking notice a lot more,” Galusha said, noting some of the team’s big performances – like victory over Rachel Homan’s Ontario – had helped to elevate her profile as the week progressed.
McDonald didn’t initially know the hoodies would become part of a fundraiser.
“A lot of people are shouting it out and spreading the word,” she said.
“Seeing the comments with people being so interested is cool, and knowing they are doing $10 to the cause makes it an even better feeling.”
Galusha said having an Indigenous artist create the look was important, and the team “loved” the finished product – and the platform they were able to achieve for the message behind it.
“I’m just trying to use my voice,” she said. “And I’m still learning, as well.”