Vancouver Canucks Face Criticism for ‘Culturally Appropriated’ Orca Logo

Vancouver Canucks
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The Vancouver Canucks hockey team is the latest sports organization to receive criticism that their team name or logo negatively impacts the Native American community. The NFL’s Washington Redskins and MLB’s Cleveland Indians have both recently made decisions to change their decades-old names after claims of racism from activist groups.

Sean Carleton, a University of Manitoba history professor, posted a long thread Tuesday on Twitter explaining that since the Orca on the Canuck’s team logo looks similar to the art style of the Coast Salish, a group of languages and people indigenous to British Columbia, that the logo is “racist and appropriated” and must be “retired.”

“People will say, but Sean the imagery is a ‘sign of respect.’ How respectful is continuing to make piles of money from a business you operate on stolen land all the while branding that business with stolen imagery. That’s the logic of colonial capitalism for you,” Carleton said.

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini said in 2019 that he had no intention of changing the logo, which the team has had since 1997. “I like the logo. It’s indigenous to the region. We’re going to keep it. We might tweak it,” Aquilini said. “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.”

Along with his claims of “stolen land” and “colonialism,” Carleton also charged the NHL team with designing their logo “without Indigenous consultation,” and cites an article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that said if a non-Indigenous person would like to create Indigenous art, they must first receive “prior and informed” consent from an Indigenous person and that the person must have “a connection with the Indigenous community that inspired them.” According to Carleton, this process was not completed by the team, and therefore they have committed “appropriation.”

Carleton did have a suggestion as to how the Canucks can make up for their “colonial capitalism” saying, “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.”

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