When the Point Edward Black Hawks step onto the ice for their first game this season, they will sport jerseys with logos that meet new Ontario Human Rights standards.
“We spent a ton of time, a ton of energy and a ton of money to make this happen,” says Liz Page, president of the Point Edward Minor Athletic Association.
The former logo was exactly the same as the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawk’s caricature of an Indigenous man wearing feathers and face paint and was used by Point Edward minor for at least 40 years. The new logo now on all uniforms, centre ice, banners, and swag depicts a fierce black bird. The old Blackhawk name is now Black Hawk.
Feedback at a rebranding workshop attended by players, coaches, parents and fans made it clear people wanted to retain the Black Hawk name, said Page. Rebranding discussions started in 2019 after the Ontario Human Rights Commission asked municipalities to review their Indigenous team names and logos. The request 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. Mississauga city council formally banned non-Indigenous teams from displaying Indigenous logos, mascots and other imagery in municipal sports facilities.
Last year, Point Edward village council made the same decision and worked with the association to find a solution. PEMAA receives $20,000 a year from village council and decided to use this year’s grant to offset the expense of rebranding. The entire cost will exceed $40,000, according to Page.
“It’s a lot of money. We have to replace everything including our letterhead and banners; however, we continue to fundraise aggressively to be able to afford this transition.”
The PEMAA board of directors felt it was important to adhere to the human rights decision despite the position of the local Aamjiwnaang First Nation that the names of the Point Edward Blackhawk’s or Sarnia Braves baseball were not offensive. The Braves have since been renamed the Sarnia Brigade. In Lambton County, the Alvinston Indians are now the Alvinston Riverhawks. Several American professional teams have also changed their names but the Chicago Blackhawks continue to use the logo that Point Edward just ditched.
“Maybe that’s the difference between the U.S. and Canada,” Page said. “And, of course, it was the Ontario Human Rights Commission that mandated this change.” But she hopes the Chicago Blackhawk organization gives it more consideration.
“I really hope they think about what it says to their fans and the general public,” Page said. “We don’t want to erase history but we want to be respectful and I think we’ve landed on a good solution.”
Early response to the new logo has been generally positive although Page admitted to several complaints from people who grew up with the old logo.
“It hasn’t been easy. There’s lots of public opinion on this,” she said. “We’re proud of the end result but it didn’t come without anguish.”
Rebranding, she added, is something that is needed to keep up with the times. The former Blackhawk name and logo were adopted by Point Edward PEMAA when it was decided the original PEMAA Redmen logo was no longer acceptable. Even if no one in Point Edward or Sarnia was offended by the old logo, someone outside the community could have an adverse reaction when the teams play out-of-town, Page added.
Point Edward’s 150 players start their season Oct. 11.