Calgary hockey association to change name in step toward reconciliation

December 16, 2021
Calgary hockey association to change name in step toward reconciliation
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A Calgary minor hockey association is following the likes of Edmonton’s CFL team and Washington’s NFL team, and changing its name. 

The Blackfoot Hockey Association, which has several teams named the Chiefs, will be dropping both Blackfoot and Chiefs from the association and team names and adopting a new moniker. 

Changing the names of potentially offensive sports teams is crucial work, says Pam Beebe, a Blackfoot member of Kainai Nation. Beebe helped guide consultation for the hockey association.

She says when she attended McGill in Montreal, the university’s team name was the Redmen.

She didn’t feel affected by it, but became more aware of the impact during a movement calling out Indigenous mascots in sports and Indigenous cultural misappropriations.

“When they started the ‘not your mascot’ campaign, that really resonated with me because I thought it was disrespectful when they’d show on TV, and people would be all doing the tomahawk chop,” Beebe said. “That’s horrible.” 

She said the Blackfoot Chiefs changing its name voluntarily sends a great message, and she  welcomes its search for a more thoughtful name. 

The move toward a new identity is a tangible step toward truth and reconciliation, Beebe said. 

“They’re taking into consideration the history of this place. They want it to be welcoming and open to other Indigenous people,” she said. 

‘The respect that they deserve’

Georgina Anderson, president of the Blackfoot Hockey Association, says the name goes back 30 years and its first logo was a dreamcatcher.

“With other groups changing their names, it started to make me think and then we’d have little conversations about it…maybe we’re not helping these communities reclaim or get the respect that they deserve,” she said. 

Anderson said the association is located on the north side of Blackfoot Road, and the group could have potentially justified continuing with its current name. 

“But we thought even if you were thinking even a little bit towards the Indigenous community, why not just take all those thoughts out? Let Blackfoot be an individual nation.”

She encourages other hockey associations to speak with Indigenous communities to see if their name is harmful.

A survey has been sent out to the hockey association’s members, Anderson said the association’s board is hoping to finalize a new name at the end of December. 

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