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Vancouver Canucks face calls to retire orca logo over cultural appropriation

Click to play video 'B.C. First Nations leader rejects ‘cultural appropriation’ accusation against Vancouver Canucks’ logo' B.C. First Nations leader rejects ‘cultural appropriation’ accusation against Vancouver Canucks’ logo
A leading First Nations leader in B.C. says he has no problem with the Vancouver Canucks' orca logo, despite a new accusation that it's another example of cultural appropriation. Grace Ke reports – Dec 15, 2020

The Vancouver Canucks are facing accusations that their primary logo is an example of cultural appropriation.

Sean Carleton, a historian and Indigenous Studies scholar at the University of Manitoba, said the orca logo’s “Coast Salish-inspired imagery was designed without Indigenous consultation.”

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“As a Canucks fan and a historian of Indigenous-settler relations in B.C., the orca logo is, without a doubt, cultural appropriation,” Carleton wrote on social media on Monday.

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The Canucks introduced the orca logo, which was created by artist Brent Lynch, in 1997.

Global News has reached out to the Canucks for comment.

The comments come after new Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby apologized for a design on his mask that was created by a Swedish artist and included Indigenous imagery.

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Carleton asked why Holtby faced criticism for the design while his team continues to use Indigenous imagery in its primary logo.

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“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,” he wrote. “That’s how settler colonialism works.”

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Carleton suggested the team should retire the Orca logo and bring back its classic skate-and-rink design.

He went on to say the NHL franchise should develop more meaningful partnerships with local First Nations.

“At the very least, the Canucks should… work with Indigenous peoples to develop iconography in appropriate ways, giving Indigenous artists a platform and a way to participate and benefit.”

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Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said the NHL franchise has a good relationship with local First Nations.

“They haven’t taken issue with the Canucks logo, so I have no problem with it,” he said.

“I have a Canucks jersey.”

As for Holtby’s mask, Phillip said it’s “unfortunate” that local First Nations weren’t contacted about cultural protocols.

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At least one sports franchise in B.C. has previously worked with local First Nations.

In 2018, the B.C. Hockey League’s Chilliwack Chiefs wore jerseys emblazoned with a logo designed by an artist from the Tzeachten First Nation.