Canadian astronaut unveils Indigenous-designed patch he will wear on his next mission to the Moon

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Children gathered at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina on Thursday watched in awe as astronaut Jeremy Hansen unveiled the patch, designed by an Indigenous artist, that he will wear as the first Canadian to fly to the moon.

Hansen, originally from London, Ontario, is one of four crew members scheduled to travel around the moon during the Artemis II mission, scheduled to launch as early as September 2025.

He explained at Thursday’s event how the time he spent with Indigenous elders shaped his beliefs and perspectives.

“I think Indigenous knowledge cemented the things my parents taught me,” Hansen said. “One of the things I love is that there is an overlap and understanding of the value of humans, and that we all have the same value.”

The patch is shaped like a hexagon.  The inside of the patch displays space, the earth, the moon on which a woman's face appears.  There are also images of the seven sacred teachings: a buffalo, an eagle, a bear, a bigfoot, a beaver, a wolf and a turtle.
An image showing the patch that Jeremy Hansen will wear on the upcoming Artemis II mission around the moon. The crest was designed by Anishinaabe artist Henry Guimon. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

The crest was designed for Hansen by Anishinaabe artist Henry Guimon of the Turtle Lodge, an Indigenous education center on the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, where Hansen spent time.

The symbols on the badge represent seven sacred laws, including a buffalo for respect, an eagle for love, a bear for courage, a bigfoot for honesty, a beaver for wisdom, a wolf for humility and a turtle to represent the truth.

“You see the seven sacred laws, which are actually instructions for us, reminding us how to aspire to be as humans, how we walk on this planet,” Hansen said. “As I represent the Canadians participating in this mission, this is an important reminder to me of how I would like to walk and the example I would like to strive to represent.”

Two Indigenous men from Turtle Lodge stand next to astronaut Jeremy Hansen, who holds a microphone.
Jeremy Hansen speaking at the unveiling event alongside Turtle Lodge chef Dave Courchene, center and patch artist Henry Guimond. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Dave Coucherne, the leader of Turtle Lodge, was present Thursday for the unveiling of the patch.

“When (elders) talk about their teachings, their gifts to our people, (they) teach us how to behave and how to behave on the planet,” Courchene said.

“Each of these teachings is represented by an animal. The goal is that they can keep us connected to the earth. People who think about animals and see how they behave and act, that’s how we learn.”

Hansen traveled across Canada to raise awareness of the Artemis II mission, which is expected to be the first crewed mission to the Moon since the Apollo mission in 1972.

Canadian astronauts prepare for the Artemis II mission around the Moon

Jeremy Hansen is expected to become the first Canadian astronaut to undertake a mission around the Moon, when Artemis II lifts off in 2025. The Canadian Space Agency has offered a behind-the-scenes look at how crews prepare physically and mentally for this monumental mission. journey.

The Artemis program is “a multi-mission campaign intended to create a lasting lunar presence and pave the way for human exploration of Mars,” according to the Canadian Space Agency. The Artemis II expedition around the Moon is expected to last 10 days and is designed to test the equipment and safety processes of future teams that eventually land on the Moon and stay in space longer.

“It’s a stepping stone approach,” Hansen said. “Before committing to a month-long mission with this capsule stuck in lunar orbit, we want to test it on a safer profile.”

Hansen will participate in the mission representing the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), alongside three other astronauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). His teammates have all already flown to the International Space Station. This will be Hansen’s first time in space.

“The Artemis missions are really great examples of nations around the world coming together to tackle some really huge problems,” Hansen said.

“Going to the Moon has never been easier since the 1960s. And this time, we are doing it through an international partnership.”

Hansen said another element of Turtle Lodge’s teachings that stood out to him was Indigenous people’s connection to the land and the harmony that comes from caring for our planet.

We need to understand how to act more lightly on this planet. I think it’s a nice gift to give.-Jérémy Hansen

NASA does a lot of climate research using decades of space data to see how our planet has changed, Hansen said.

“(Indigenous people) have been patient and (knew) that their donations would be needed and respected. And this moment really seems like the moment where we need to reverse what we’re doing to Mother Earth,” Hansen said.

“We need to understand how to act more lightly on this planet. I think that’s a great gift to give.”

Three children stand to Hansen's left as he kneels to wave to them.
Jermey Hansen greets the children at Thursday’s event. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Hansen took the time to answer questions from the children in the audience. Having completed his military flight training in Moose Jaw, Hansen said he wanted to inspire Saskatchewan children to follow their dreams.

“I saw a photo of a human standing on the moon and it changed the path I had set for myself, setting this goal of being a space explorer and sharing it with others people,” Hansen said.

“Now I look at how people have helped me achieve my goals. So I’m well aware that just spending time with people and sharing that can impact their lives and that’s very meaningful In my opinion.”

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