Burlington is changing our name and logo for 2021.
The decision was made to change to the name “Chiefs” and our current Logo. This was a difficult but necessary decision made by the BMLA Board Of Directors.
This decision is driven by an issue that was raised by the City of Burlington in 2019. The City of Burlington received a letter from the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) recently intervened in an Application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) which alleged that the use and display of Indigenous-themed logos and team names in the City of Mississauga sports arenas was discriminatory. The OHRC reached a settlement with the City of Mississauga and the Applicant. In the settlement, the City of Mississauga committed to:
- Remove from its sports facilities all Indigenous-themed mascots, symbols, names and imagery related to non-Indigenous sports organizations.
- Develop a policy on the use of Indigenous images and themes at its sports facilities, in collaboration with different groups such as the Mississauga’s of the 2 New Credit First Nation, the Peel Aboriginal Network, the Indigenous Youth Council of the Ontario Federation of Friendship Centres and Indigenous Sport and Wellness Ontario.
- Supplement its Diversity and Inclusion training with expanded material addressing reconciliation and Indigenous peoples.
The City of Burlington was one of 40 municipalities across the province that received notices from the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Burlington Chiefs were mentioned specifically in this notice to the city. The OHRC is now contacting municipalities in Ontario to follow suit.
Discussion surrounding the use of Indigenous imagery among both professional and amateur sports franchises has picked up in recent years. The Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Blackhawks and Washington Redskins are the most high-profile examples of teams facing increased pressure to change their names and/or logos considered by critics to be racially insensitive. Many municipalities will be enacting changes similar to Mississauga.
As service providers, municipalities have obligations under the Code to provide a service environment free of discrimination. Human rights law has found that images and words that degrade people because of their ancestry, race, color and ethnic origin, among other grounds, violate the Code. What this could mean is that failing to change could mean the loss of use of facilities or at the minimum, the subsidy the city provides for our floor rentals. The cost increase would make lacrosse very expensive.
We have developed a history and pride in the accomplishments of our youth as a Burlington "Chief". It will be hard for many to accept that we need to make the change. I was resistant at first, but as I looked further into the issue I realized I had to look at it from another perspective. I have learned to look at life from different perspectives and leave the perspective I developed growing up. Sports are great driver of inclusion. Our focus as caretakers of the Burlington Minor Lacrosse Association is to help youth develop their self esteem and promote a healthy and active lifestyle in the most inclusive manner.
Where do we go from here!
The Burlington Chiefs Junior A have been given the same information and are of the same opinion that change is necessary. We intend to have a common name for both the Minor organization and the Junior A team.
The BMLA and the JR A Chiefs will be asking our membership to be involved in the renaming process. We are setting up a new email address for our members to send their name suggestions. We look forward to all the great ideas and have heard many suggestions.
To create excitement and inclusions, we will be launching the new team name and logo at our BMLA House League Championship Weekend on Sunday June 27th at 11:00 AM at Mainway Arena. We will be selecting kids from our House League and Rep programs along with the some JR A players to model the new jerseys with the team name and logo.
The process for choosing a new team name and logo will be a collaborative effort between BMLA and the Burlington JR A’s. Our goal is to have all the name suggestions submitted by the beginning of March 2020. This allows us the necessary time to review the name suggestions and choose an appropriate name from those presented. We will then have a logo professionally developed based on the new team name.
Stay Tuned for the email with information on how to submit your suggestion for a team name.
Let us show leadership on this issue and set a path for other organizations to follow.
Bill Boyle Dave Hunter
BMLA Past President BMLA President