A case brought to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has motivated Collingwood Minor Hockey Association to change its team name and logo.
According to a letter sent to Collingwood town council, the association has set a goal to cease using its current name and logo by the 2020-21 season.
Today, the association uses the name Collingwood Blackhawks, and the logo is supposed to depict the face of an Indigenous man. The logo looks the same as the one used by the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks.
Recently, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) reached a settlement with the City of Mississauga and the applicant who brought the case before the tribunal. The city was using the name Mississauga Braves, then Blackhawks, and the same picture logo as Collingwood and Chicago.
“We are aware of this decision and it has sparked new discussion within our board and membership about our association's use of the Blackhawks name and logo,” association president Craig Hammond wrote in a letter to Collingwood council.
The city of Mississauga has agreed to remove banners and trophies with the images and develop a policy on the use of the images in our sports facilities.
According to a City of Mississauga senior media advisor, Catherine Monast, the policy will be done by September 2019.
The OHRC reached out to Collingwood council, and other municipalities, to explain the recent tribunal settlement and to urge Collingwood to engage Indigenous communities in discussions about the use of Indigenous-themed logos and team names in sports arenas.
“The OHRC recognizes that the use of Indigenous-themed names and logos by sports teams has been a long-standing norm in our society,” reads the letter sent to council by the OHRC. “However, it is time to revisit these pervasive images.”
The OHRC letter further states derogatory images and words such as those used in some sports logos, have a significant ability on the affected individuals and groups to participate.
“Sports are drivers of social inclusion. They bring communities together and help youth develop their self-esteem,” states the letter. “To this end, the OHRC and municipalities have a shared goal of actively removing barriers to participation in sports for Indigenous youth.”
In Hammond’s letter, he states the CMHA board is having discussions around how to ensure a new logo and name is respectful of any group that may feel represented by the new logo, how to choose a name and logo, and how to manage the cost of home and away jerseys for 400 players.
The change to a new name and logo, states Hammond, requires some time to cover the costs and time required for rebranding.
So far, the association hasn’t identified what it is considering for a new name and logo for the organization’s teams.
“As we move forward with these changes, we are considering putting a call out to the community and members of the organization for suggestions on a new name and logo,” Hammond said in his letter, adding the board wants to see a logo that is inclusive while still being “an emblem that inspires the players, coaches, and Collingwood community.”