Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby’s new helmet design, created by Swedish artist David Gunnarson, came under fire this week on accusations of cultural appropriation. (David Gunnarson, Instagram)

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby’s new helmet design, created by Swedish artist David Gunnarson, came under fire this week on accusations of cultural appropriation. (David Gunnarson, Instagram)

Williams Lake First Nation Chief supports Canucks amid cultural appropriation controversy

“That’s my team. That’s who I cheer for, and I’ve always taken great pride in that logo.”

The chief of the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) is throwing his support behind the Vancouver Canucks after the NHL team faced accusations of cultural appropriation surrounding its logo and a goaltender’s mask this week.

WLFN Chief Willie Sellars, a longtime goaltender himself with the Central Interior Hockey League’s Williams Lake Stampeders, said as a First Nations leader and as a hockey fan he is supportive of the Canucks’ trademarked, Coast Salish-nation inspired orca logo and of the team.

“As a First Nations leader I couldn’t be more proud how much the Vancouver Canucks are celebrating First Nations culture in the NHL,” Sellars said. “They have a pretty cool logo in my opinion and, as far as I know, it was developed with the permission of the First Nation in that territory.

“That’s my team. That’s who I cheer for, and I’ve always taken great pride in that logo. I’m 100 per cent OK if it stays the way it is, but if they’re going to change it there should be local First Nations involved.”

Sellars said he’s seen improvement across the country on how reconciliation is being approached, and said he thinks the City of Vancouver has done an exceptional job.

“Obviously, it’s not perfect but, we’re trending in the right direction and that’s what we like to see as First Nations leaders,” he said. “(Reconciliation is) happening and that’s what we have to acknowledge.”

Sean Carleton, a historian and Indigenous Studies scholar at the University of Manitoba, opened up the discussion on Twitter recently, noting sports teams in Cleveland, Washington and Edmonton have shed their names and logos after they were deemed inappropriate.

Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby sparked the backlash earlier this week after unveiling his new goalie mask, created by Swedish artist David Gunnarson, which builds on the Coast Salish legend of the Thunderbird.

“The huge Thunderbird is flying over the mountains to the ocean to catch orcas with his huge claws … A totally perfect story to create on a Canucks mask,” Gunnarson said in his original Instagram unveiling of the Indigenous-inspired artwork, which has since been deleted.

Sellars said he loves the idea of Indigenous culture being celebrated in professional sports, however, said he would have liked to see West Coast Indigenous culture honoured more by working with a local, Indigenous artist from the area.

“I love the mask, by the way, but you need to follow and honour the people whose traditional territory you are in,” he said.

Holtby has since issued a public apology noting he didn’t mean to offend anyone.

“It was definitely not my intent and I definitely learned a valuable lesson through this all and will make sure I’m better moving forward and do the thing that help this community the most,” Holtby said in an interview with CTV Vancouver.

“The goal was and still is to include Indigenous artist and try and pick their brain to see how they would design a mask to best represent the history and culture around this area especially because it’s so vast.”



greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First NationshockeyNHL

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

(File photo)
Repeated cougar sighting on Okanagan Rail Trail

Plenty of bear sightings around the valley too

Cassie Bonthoux and James Nelson (Contributed/Facebook)
Kelowna dealer who operated international dark web drug ring denied appeal

The BC Court of Appeal denied James Nelson an appeal on his 11-year prison sentence

Vernon local Ryan Lazar – who specializes in 2D background design and 3D animation – is ready to start his career after a tough yet rewarding two years of studies. (Contributed)
Okanagan College students get animated at graduation

‘The pandemic has resulted in more video consumption and the animation industry is so hot right now because of it’

A screenshot from the Kelowna Fire Department’s new Fire Safety House educational video. (Contributed)
Kelowna Fire Department’s Fire Safety House goes virtual

To adjust to the pandemic, KFD is offering virtual fire safety videos, virtual tours of fire hall

WildSafeBC is reminding residents to keep manage wildlife attractants on their property. (WildSafeBC Central Okanagan)
WildSafeBC reminds residents to manage attractants as bears spotted in Okanagan

The most prominent reminder is to keep garbage secured indoors until collection day

Barriere RCMP nabbed two suspects who were allegedly breaking into cabins in McLure. (File photo)
Thieves nabbed by Barriere Mounties during McLure break-ins

Police Service Dog Kody instrumental in making the arrest

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

RCMP vest
Penticton beach brawl results in one arrest but no charges

People took to social media after a fight broke out at the fire pits at Okanagan Lake Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Salmon Arm RCMP seize a handgun, drugs and cash at a Silver Creek property on Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Police seize handgun, drugs and cash at a Shuswap property

Salmon Arm RCMP said warrant for Silver Creek revealed cannabis, possible cocaine, magic mushrooms

Most Read