Letter: Clarifying a letter regarding a change to the Chiefs

The hockey team is not only a sports team but also a corporate entity “representing” the community

To the editor:

We thank the Capital News for publishing sections of our letter and for writing a story regarding our concerns about the Kelowna minor league hockey team and logo. In writing the letter, our purpose was to draw the community’s attention to the name and logo of a local team we found demeaning, insulting and offensive to First Nations peoples, and indeed to many in the Central Okanagan. We hoped the letter would galvanize the community to act by endorsing our call for the removal of the name and logo of the hockey team. In this letter to the Capital News, we want to clarify and comment on some of the contents and remarks in the story made about our letter.

One, our intention was (is) to write to the community about the name and logo rather than approach the team’s owner since the latter does not seem to think there is an issue given his persistent use and promotion of the name and logo. In addition, we believe approaching the community to act is more a more powerful strategy than some students approaching an owner who can dismiss their concerns outright – as evident in his reaction in the newspaper story. Two, we in no way attempt to speak for or on behalf of the First Nations communities in the Okanagan. We speak as citizens of the Central Okanagan concerned about issues affecting a group in the community and reflecting poorly on the community. After all, the hockey team is not only a sports team but also a corporate entity “representing” the community across the province.

READ MORE: UBCO sociology class calls on Kelowna Chiefs to change “derogatory” name

Three, the reporter points out that a poll was taking with a group of Aboriginal leaders who subsequently said they had no issue with the name of the hockey team. However, we believe that 12 people do not a poll make! About this poll, we ask: who conducted the poll? When and why? Were there any rigorous/scientific practices in the construction and administrating of this poll? Is this poll valid if we do not know answers to these questions? In addition, it appears that this poll did not contain a question on what thoughts the subjects of this poll thought about the logo of the team – (see original story for disturbing picture).

None of these questions were raised in the in the article and so we find no comfort in the findings of this poll! Four, our letter contests and calls for the removal of the team logo. Ironically, ignored in the article is the logo we claim in the letter as highly offensive, insulting and racist.

That is to say, we were surprised to find the logo unaddressed in the newspaper story though we raise in the letter and the article contains a picture of it. Five, we remain committed to the view that ‘chiefs’ is a colonizer name tied to a violent history of genocide of Aboriginals peoples. It (“chiefs”) finds no equivalent name in First Nations cultures and history. So long as we keep such names in cultural circulation and display, we risk erasing First Nations historical experiences of abuse by misrepresenting their cultures and identities. We need to end the spread of these misconstructions of Aboriginals’ history and aggressively contest stereotypical names and logos of sports teams. Sports, and hockey in particular, constitute an important aspect of Canadian identity. Let us not have this identity be any longer tarnished with pass campaigns of genocide, cultural appropriation and racism stamped in the names and logos of our sports teams.

Averia Debungie and Luis Aguiar

UBCO, Sociology

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