PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – The Prince Albert Raiders announced in a statement Friday on their website there will not be a team mascot at home games until further notice. The Western Hockey League (WHL) team is considering feedback it’s received this past week.
The executive director of the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan Rhonda Rosenberg told The Canadian Press the Arabian raider mascot plays into possible discrimination.
“The idea of a somewhat violent Muslim man is a stereotype that is really difficult for a lot of people to live with,” she said in an interview last week. “Really mascots are not where we should be depicting cultural groups of people.”
“At the very least they need to check in with some people who are of that background.”
The team unveiled its new mascot at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, Sask. when the Raiders took on the Moose Jaw Warriors Nov. 14.
At the time, a spokesperson with the team said the logo was worn on jerseys from 1982 to 1996 and later returned as a third jersey in the early 2000s. It was also a shoulder crest on the Raiders jersey from 2010 to 2013.
“The Prince Albert Raiders won a Memorial Cup in 1985 and fans identify with the logo worn at the time. It’s synonymous with the success and winning of the franchise,” Amber Pratt said in an email.
The mascot caught the attention of Ellen Staurowsky, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia specializing in cultural appropriation in sports. Staurowsky said the image draws upon old, stereotypical notions of racial and ethnic minorities.
“In this time of trying to educate consumers and people working in sport about creating open and inclusive environments, this kind of stereotyping really undermines those efforts,” she said.
“It was never our intention to offend anyone nor do we feel that the character is in any way a negative representation of Middle Eastern people or their culture,” said Pratt.
The mascot, named ‘Boston Raider,’ was derived from of the team’s original logo. The Raiders have since apologized to anyone who felt it was offensive.
With files from The Canadian Press