Indigenous girl refuses to wear warrior logo
Starting hockey should be an exciting moment for any seven-year-old.
But for one Calgary girl, that excitement was spoiled after realizing what emblem would be plastered across her chest — a First Nations “warrior” with war paint and feathers.
The girl’s mother, whom Postmedia has agreed not to identify as she fears repercussions for her children, said her daughter refuses to wear the “discriminatory” jersey, and because of zoning issues will be forced to sit out for what would have been her first season on the ice.
“A shirt is supposed to represent unity between people,” she said. “My daughter is all about culture and bringing people together with arts and sports. So being told to wear this or sit on the bench — you have to be kidding right?”
The family, who are Indigenous, live in a grey area between two teams’ boundaries and despite submitting a petition for the young girl and her five-year-old brother to play for the Bruins, whose team emblem is a bear, Hockey Calgary refused because of their mailing address, said the mother.
Having to choose between pride and letting her kids play was an easy choice, the mother explained. Both children will be sitting out this season.
The jersey is worn by members of Calgary’s Northwest Warriors hockey association, which was created after the Crowchild Blackhawks and Westwood Warriors merged. The team name from Westwood remained and the logo from Crowchild carried on.
Bryan Boechler, president of the Crowchild association said this is the first complaint they’ve received about the logo.
“The warrior is a revered figure in the First Nations heritage, so that’s the perspective we took in bringing our new name to the forefront,” said Boechler. He said the association consulted with Indigenous people when the logo was first introduced and that it honours what the Indigenous community means to Calgary, much like Crowchild Trail does.
They have no plans to change the logo, but would consider it if more concerns arise.
“The reality is we’re a member organization, so should there be direction from our membership or concern that we’re somehow doing something negative … there’s no question. We would consider it,” he said.
Hockey Calgary declined to comment on the logo, noting it’s up to individual associations to make their own emblem choices. Hockey Alberta did not provide a comment by press time.
The debate surrounding Indigenous images in team logos and mascots has been ongoing for years.
In 2014, an activist group in the States launched a social media campaign using the hashtag #NotYourMascot during the Super Bowl in an effort to draw attention to misappropriation of Indigenous culture.
That same year, Western Canada High School dropped its long-held Redmen name for a more “inclusive” Redhawks following feedback from the community, and in 2015, the head of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said it was time to get rid of offensive Indigenous mascots in an effort to aid reconciliation.
Changing the Warriors team logo, which looks almost identical to that of the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team, would send a strong message said Jennifer Pettit, interim dean of the faculty of arts at Mount Royal University, who specializes in Indigenous history.
“It’s a real opportunity to teach future generations about what reconciliation can really mean,” said Pettit.
“When you’re talking about Warriors it’s perpetuating that stereotype that Indigenous people are bloodthirsty, savages and to be feared. That was the justification that was given to create the Indian Act and residential schools,” she said. “It’s time we move past these outdated mascots. They’re certainly not respectful of Indigenous people or cultures.”