Point Edward’s hockey players will hit the ice this season for the first time without wearing their traditional Blackhawks logo.
“We’ve chosen to do a transitional approach this year,” said Liz Page, president of the Point Edward Minor Athletic Association, noting the removal of the logo from both centre ice at the village’s arena and all player jerseys.
“We’re going to keep the name for this year and not the logo. And we’ll use this year to engage our membership and hopefully come up with something everyone can be proud of.”
Point Edward council voted this month to ban all Indigenous images and themes from its sports facilities, ‘to promote a positive and inclusive experience… in order to create a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and with of all people,’ the policy states.
The move follows a 2019 letter from the Ontario Human Rights Commission asking municipalities to review their Indigenous team names and logos, including the Point Edward Blackhawks and the Sarnia Braves — which are now called the Brigade.
The logo at centre ice was removed later that year, and the association met with Aamjiwnaang representatives, including Chief Chris Plain, who noted they weren’t offended by either the teams’ names or logos. The group sent a letter to the commission asking if the team names could be kept if the logos are adjusted.
“We realized that when we go to other centres, we can’t assume they know the history. Even though locally we might be able to do a decent job of educating everyone, when we go to tournaments or games out of town we could unknowingly be offending or triggering people, and we don’t want to lead with that.
“We want to make sure we’re waking the walk, because we really believe that it’s the right thing to do.”
Point Edward players will wear their new, temporary jerseys this season before a new name and logo are decided.
“We know there are some people that are really sad to see the logo change,” said Page. “So for one year, they’re going to wear these ‘in between’ jerseys, and we think that’s a good transition — leaving space for those who are struggling with the change, and also respecting that it needs to happen.”
“You can feel however you want about it, but if you’re not Indigenous, how can you say how it would be received, right?
The association plans to take on extra fundraising efforts this season to help cover the costs of implementing a new name and logo, Page said.
“Hopefully it lands with people where it needs to, because truth and reconciliation is more than just one day, more than wearing an orange shirt,” she said.
“We want to make sure that we’re teaching our kids coming up through the hockey system about inclusivity and respect.”