On July 8, 2021, the OHRC wrote a second letter to 23 municipalities about the harmful impact of Indigenous-themed sports logos in city facilities.
Re: Indigenous-themed sports logos
I hope this finds you well. I am seeking an update on the steps your municipality has taken since the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) letter to you on the use of Indigenous-themed sports logos by a sports team in your municipality. The letter is attached.
Following our settlement in Gallant vs Mississauga, the OHRC wrote to your municipality. We had identified that a sports team associated with your municipality, the [team name], was using Indigenous-themed names and/or logos. We were concerned that such displays can create a poisoned environment and have a significant impact on the ability of affected individuals and groups to participate and benefit equally in services including participating as a member of a sports team or attending games as a spectator. We urged your municipality to collaborate with diverse Indigenous communities to develop a policy on the use of Indigenous-themed logos and names at your sports facilities, and to take appropriate action in removing barriers to inclusion.
As you may be aware, recent events across Canada have raised awareness of the harmful impact that names, words and images can have on Indigenous peoples and racialized communities. In many cases there have been calls to change or remove such displays from sports teams as well as roads, buildings, monuments and other public spaces.
On April 15, 2019, the OHRC wrote to 40 municipalities across Ontario whose local sports teams use Indigenous-themed names and/or logos. In the last two years, nine municipalities that have worked with their sports teams to change their names and logos, five more are in progress, while two others have engaged with Indigenous communities and received support to continue their use.
We would like to receive an update on the steps your municipality has taken to work with sports teams and Indigenous communities in your area to develop a policy and take action to remove barriers to inclusion. We request that you provide information on the progress that has been made since our first letter by July 30, 2021. Please respond by writing to [the OHRC].
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Ena Chadha, LL.B., LL.M.
cc: OHRC Commissioners