Canucks Lunar New Year design celebrates community, unity and strength

“As a people, we are all on the same team. Everyone is important.” — artist Trevor Lai

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Trevor Lai grew up in Vancouver, but it wasn’t until he moved to Shanghai that he really learned to skate.

And he also had to move to China for him to land on the NHL’s radar as a performer. The creator of one of China’s most popular children’s shows, Super BOOMi, which has attracted billions of views online and is also hugely popular on Chinese TV, has designed the latest version of the Lunar New Year warm-up sweater from the Vancouver Canucks.

Lai first became associated with the NHL in 2019, when the league partnered with him to create a Super BOOMi series that introduced fans of the BOOMi character to hockey, incorporating NHL stars such as Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau and the the Canucks’ own Elias Pettersson.

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“I grew up in Vancouver, so I’ve been a Canucks fan since childhood,” Lai said Thursday.

“I played street hockey here, but I didn’t really learn to skate until I was in Shanghai and joined the beer league there. The Shanghai hockey community is one of the largest and most diverse in the country, and I saw the potential to grow the sport there. When the NHL Games came up in China (in 2017) and the Canucks were playing, I reached out to the league and the team to see if we could work together.”

Though he resides primarily in Shanghai these days, that doesn’t stop him from following the Canucks on a daily basis.

“I’m the biggest China Canucks fan,” he joked over the phone. And that meant he was thrilled to be asked to design the new sweater, which will be worn when the Canucks host their Lunar New Year-themed game. (It’s unclear when that game will be: It’s currently scheduled for Jan. 25, but may still be rescheduled for later in the season, when the Canucks hope crowd capacity restrictions have been lifted.)

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“The main theme I had in mind was change,” he said of what prompted his initial thinking about the sweater’s design. “Over the last few years in Vancouver and around the world there has been a lot of hate against Asians and I want to change that.”

“So I also thought, let’s change the logo.”

Trevor Lai of Up Studios is working on a Year of the Tiger design for the Vancouver Canucks.
Trevor Lai of Up Studios is working on a Year of the Tiger design for the Vancouver Canucks.

He also wanted to highlight the ideas of unity and harmony.

“It’s about integration,” he said. He wants to change the dialogue about how different cultures view each other, pushing us all towards a more common understanding of each other.

His initial release saw him alter the lower elements of the well-known Orca logo, but the Canucks actually pushed him to think about changing it all.

“All credit to them,” he said.

And so the Orca was transformed into a tiger.

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“I drew like 80 versions of the tiger to put in the logo because obviously tigers and killer whales don’t look anything alike,” he explained.

The result is a striking crest that features a bold change, but still a familiar shape. The animal is different but there are many subtle similarities.

“Like I lined up the tiger’s whiskers with the orca’s teeth,” he said.

The sweater also features shoulder patches in the style of the Millennium Gate in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

“I took the three characters of the Canuck’s Chinese name (加人队, or “jia ren dui”) and put them inside the door.”

And in each character, he saw both the name of the team and a larger issue for the community. At the top of the door is the message “remember the past and look to the future”, which he felt is a statement that suits his design very well.

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“加 is the same first character for Canada,” he said. In the patch, he surrounded the character with flowers to represent the diversity of the Vancouver community as a whole and also the Chinese community.

“Second, 人 means people,” he said. He placed pine branches around the character, as the evergreen tree represents longevity, something we all need as we continue to fight the hardships brought on by the pandemic.

“And 队 means team, which represents unity and strength when we come together,” he said. Bamboo is the strongest plant, he added, which is why he chose to surround the character with representations of bamboo.

“We as a people are all on the same team. They are all important.”

“That’s the whole reason for doing this. This is not about one community over another,” he said. “I want people to say ‘oh, there’s a part of me in this’.”

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Reference-theprovince.com

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