This year, the Halifax Thunderbirds experienced the most successful season in the team’s history, making the National Lacrosse League playoffs, breaking attendance records at Scotiabank Centre, and continuing to create community through sport.

Like Lightning

Since 2019, the Halifax Thunderbirds have been strong competitors in the National Lacrosse League (NLL), welcoming thousands of fans to Scotiabank Centre each season and representing Indigenous athletes, ownership, fans, and entertainment. The Thunderbirds opened the 2023-2024 season in December with over 5,000 fans watching the new and returning roster. Over the course of the year, average in-game attendance climbed to 9,000 with a record-breaking 10,000-plus in the final two home games – breaking attendance records for the franchise and showing that the Thunderbirds have struck lightning with dedicated fans across the province.

While the Thunderbirds represents some of the best players in the League, the franchise also honours the history of lacrosse as an Indigenous sport. As a result, the team has created superfans from the Indigenous community across the region, including Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Andrea Paul. As a season-ticket holder, Chief Paul drives over two hours from Pictou County for every home game, after being “hooked” in 2019 by the excitement, energy, and sense of belonging.

"Seeing the Thunderbirds here, it made me feel like we were being heard through sport."

- Regional Chief Andrea Paul, Assembly of First Nations. 

For Curt Styres, owner and general manager, Halifax has welcomed and supported the Thunderbirds beyond his expectations. In 2020, Styres was named the IL Indoor Coach and General Manager of the Year Award by the NLL. Since then, with the help of his management team, Styres has built components that represent and honour Indigenous history and culture, such as launching the Inclusion and Empowerment Program for Indigenous, Black and female athletes; Eastern Eagle drumming and Indigenous performers during games; and dedicated nights to fundraise for Every Child Matters. “My mom was a survivor of a residential school, and [Every Child Matters] is one of the things I do to honour the ones who were there,” Styres said. This year, Styres was elected to the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame for his outstanding leadership and achievements as the sole Indigenous owner of the Halifax Thunderbirds.

Every Child Matters

"I'll never forget where the [NAIG] Opening Ceremony happened. This flag will represent that. When you see your flag, you feel at home; you feel this is your home. There's pride in that."

- Chief Norman Bernard, Wagmatcook First Nation. 

For the 2023-2024 Halifax Mooseheads opening game, with the support of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and advice from the North American Indigenous Games, Scotiabank Centre ceremoniously installed the Grand Council of the Mi’kmaq flag in the building’s rafters. To recognize this permanent installation, and to honour the season home opener of the Halifax Thunderbirds, we hosted a reception before the game in honour of Every Child Matters. With Styres, Regional Chief Andrea Paul, Grand Chief Norman Sylliboy of the Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, team management, and survivors of residential schools and their families, the reception recognized the Thunderbirds' tradition of dedicating a game each season to Every Child Matters. As Chief Sylliboy said: "Let us not forget the children that were lost to residential schools. Let us not forget the children that came home not the same. Let us not forget that things could be better." On the lacrosse box, Styres and guests acknowledged the Grand Council flag in front of thousands of fans. The flag's permanent place will honour the Halifax Thunderbirds and our Indigenous community forever. As Laura Seaboyer (Director of People, NAIG 2023) said: “To see something that you recognize, or that recognizes you, it’s important.”

"The Halifax Thunderbirds, who showcase the traditional sport of box lacrosse, represent hope, ambition, and inspiration for thousands of Indigenous youth in the sport. The Grand Council Flag presence leaves a legacy and a reminder that we are all on Mi'kmaw land. As Grand Council Chief Norman Sylliboy said, it makes you feel at home."

- Zane Sylliboy, Communications & Media, NAIG 2023. 

For increasing ticket revenue by 32 per cent and breaking single-game ticket revenue on three occasions, President & CEO John Catalano was presented with the 2024 Executive of the Year Award from the NLL: “It is a testament to our entire Thunderbirds family,” said Catalano. “It all starts at the top with Owner and General Manager Curt Styres, whose vision, support and belief in our front office staff has provided us an environment to succeed.” Scotiabank Centre is proud to be the home of the Halifax Thunderbirds, a crucial partner in creating a stronger, more inclusive, more representative community of fans. Lightning can always strike twice.

“The Thunderbirds have been an amazing partner for us, but equally as important, they are amazing ambassadors for the sport of lacrosse. We are proud to host them in the Nest, thrilled the city has embraced them, and so honoured the community feels represented here."

- Carrie Cussons, President & CEO, Scotiabank Centre.