Centre ice at Point Edward Arena is bare this winter, stripped of the Blackhawks’ hockey logo normally applied by village staff.
“It looks a little bit naked,” says Liz Page, president of the Point Edward Minor Athletic Association. “I understand the village’s point of view, but some people have reacted and want to know where the logo is.”
Point Edward did not add the Blackhawks logo to the ice after the Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a letter this summer asking municipalities to review their Indigenous team names and logos. Sarnia received a similar letter about the Braves baseball team name and logo.
The letter stemmed from a human rights complaint filed against the City of Mississauga over its sponsorship of five minor league hockey clubs, including the Mississauga Chiefs and Mississauga Braves.
Before the Human Rights Tribunal ruled on the case, three of the teams voluntarily changed their names.
In September, Mississauga city council formally banned non-Indigenous teams from displaying Indigenous logos, mascots, and other imagery in municipal sports facilities. The Mississauga ban does not impact uniforms, which the city considers outside municipal jurisdiction.
Ironically, the chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation is on record opposing the removal of Indigenous names and imagery.
Some logos, by their very nature, are offensive and those should go, wrote Chief Stacey LaForme. But banishing all representation of First Nations “does nothing to build understanding and does nothing to foster relationships,” she added.
Aamjiwnaang Chief Chris Plain has said he isn’t offended by either the Point Edward Blackhawk or Sarnia Braves names. His family members have played with the Braves and never thought anything of it, he said.
Still, the commission’s letter concerns leaders of both municipalities, who are working toward a solution.
A meeting was held involving staff from the two municipalities, village Mayor Bev Hand, Chief Plain, Liz Page and a Braves rep. The group sent a letter to the commission asking if the team names could be kept if the logos are adjusted.
“We had a really good meeting and discussed the history of these names and the fact that the Aamjiwnaang has never objected,” said Rob Harwood, Sarnia’s Parks and Rec director.
“At the end of the day we want to do the right thing and be politically correct,” he said. “Maybe, locally, we are comfortable with our names and logos but that might not be the case with visitors.”
The same goes for spectators seeing the Blackhawks and Braves logos when the teams travel out of town, said Page.
The Blackhawks are still discussing the issue at the board level and welcome opinions in writing, she said.
Meanwhile, Point Edward minor is reluctant to replace hockey jerseys this winter with the logo issue unresolved.
“Before we do anything, we want to know from the commission exactly what it is they want to change,” said Page.
“We understand there is a lot of passion on both sides of this. Whatever decision is made, people should know that a lot of time, thought and effort went into it.”