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Canucks Urged to Change Logo by History Professor Due to Cultural Appropriation

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2020

Quintin Hughes dons a Vancouver Canucks jersey after the Canucks selected him during the NHL hockey draft in Dallas, Friday, June 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

Sean Carleton, a historian and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, is urging the NHL's Vancouver Canucks to change their logo because it is cultural appropriation of Indigenous imagery.

TMZ Sports reported Carleton believes the Canucks shouldn't profit from using the Orca logo designed by a non-Indigenous person and inspired by the art of the Haida people, an Indigenous group that resides off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Sean Carleton @SeanCarleton

In light of sports teams in Cleveland, Washington, and Edmonton getting rid of racist and appropriated Indigenous team names/logos, it's time to have a discussion about the Vancouver @Canucks's Indigenous appropriated Orca logo. Here's a thread. https://t.co/QCuR6zoBae

Carleton made his complete case across several tweets in a thread, including a retort to Canucks ownership:

"Team owner Francesco Aquilini has recently stood by the logo, justifying keeping it because 'it's indigenous to the region.' Right there is how appropriation works, something 'inspired' by Indigenous art becomes 'Indigenous' and is sold as such.

"Why does this matter? Well, the real issue here is power and profit—in a bigger sense. Vancouver is located on unceded, stolen Indigenous territory, and the team makes millions from its operations and 'Indigenous' branding. This is a continuation of colonization in BC.

"The Canucks are branding their team with appropriated Indigenous imagery while being part of the process of profiting from doing business on stolen Indigenous land—without working with Indigenous peoples in meaningful ways. That's how settler colonialism works."

In October 2019, Aquilini discussed the logo on Sportsnet 650 (via Offside Vancouver) and said he hoped to keep the general theme with the potential for small alterations.

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"I like the logo," he said. "It's indigenous to the region. We're going to keep it. We might tweak it. It represents the current generation. ... We've got a whole new group of fans and they identify with this logo and they like this logo."

The situation returned to the spotlight last week after new Canucks goalie Braden Holtby was criticized for having a Swedish artist design an Indigenous Thunderbird mask, which led to Carleton making a suggestion for how the team should move forward:

Sean Carleton @SeanCarleton

Or, as a Canucks fan, here's my suggestion: that the Canucks continue to develop meaningful partnerships with Indigenous peoples in the city and province AND retire the orca logo and just go back to their best, classic design - the original stick and rink. https://t.co/XBrAwlhSX4

It's also part a larger movement throughout the sports world that's included nickname changes for the NFL's Washington team and MLB's Cleveland club.

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