September 04, 2013

Human rights complaint against Nepean Redskins

Redskins name draws human rights complaint in Ottawa

Ian Campeau, DJ with A Tribe Called Red, seeks name change 'on behalf' of his daughterAn Ottawa man has filed a human rights complaint against the Nepean Redskins Football Club in an effort to get the minor league team to change its name.

Ian Campeau, an Ojibway man who is also a member of the DJ group A Tribe Called Red, sent out a news release Tuesday saying he made the claim on behalf of his five-year-old daughter.

Campeau said he is not asking for compensation, but instead wants the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to order the National Capital Amateur Football Association, which fields teams at various age levels using the Redskins name, to change the name and logo.

The logo includes a cartoon depiction of a native man.

"The players call each other 'redskins' on the field," wrote Campeau in the release

"How are they going to differentiate the playing field from the schoolyard? What's going to stop them from calling my daughter a redskin in the schoolyard? That's as offensive as using the N-word."
Nepean Redskins president reacts to human rights complaint

Ottawa musician, Ojibway man says "offensive name" should be changedThe president of the Nepean Redskins says the football team doesn't think its name is offensive and that the club has received permission from the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition to continue using the name.

"We did reach out to the aboriginal community, we asked for their guidance on the use of the name, and we're actually advised to continue," Steve Dean told CBC News at a team practice on Tuesday night.
What the coalition said:Marc Maracle is chair of the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, a group of 11 aboriginal service providers. He said the coalition was asked by the football team about the use of the name in the fall of 2012.

"They didn't choose the name with any malicious intent to insult or criticise the aboriginal community here in Ottawa or the aboriginal population in general. And in our discussions with them, it was clearly a recognition of strength and pride and character in aboriginal people collectively," Maracle said.

The coalition recommended that the team publish literature about how the name was chosen, "as well as using the issue as a positive education tool, not only within their own executive but with the players and participants in their athletic club as well as with the coaching staff and the parents," he said.

"Our opinion was that Nepean was using the word Redskins in a positive way, not in a negative way, and that's really where it starts and it ends from our perspective. It's unfortunate that it's been presented in obviously a more confrontational way … as opposed to building a relationship and working at it from that angle. … It just takes on a different connotation that's not entirely consistent with an approach that the coalition is currently engaged in."
Comment:  Wow, Maracle is clueless about the mascot issue.

For starters, who cares what the team intended? Anyone accused of saying something racist will claim they didn't mean any harm. Unless they beamed their thoughts into people's minds, their intent is irrelevant. Only outcomes matter, not intent.

Also, who cares how the team uses the "Redskins" slur? The word is an ethnic slur on its own, by definition. Regardless of how the team spins it, the word itself conveys a message.

Even when team does nothing, the word is forming a link in people's minds. It's suggesting that Indians are dirty, half-naked, primitive people of the past. I.e., savages.

Finally, the coalition hasn't done anything except regurgitate the white team owner's rationalization. Did it investigate how others define and use the word "Redskins"? Not according to this article. Taking a white man's word that he didn't mean any harm is like taking a crook's words. If we listened to criminals, not a single person would be in jail.

Even so, I don't sense that the coalition told the team to continue. Rather, it told the team it wouldn't mind if it continued, a somewhat different matter. It added a qualifier: that the team should conduct an educational campaign with oral and written information about Native culture and history. I don't sense that any of that has happened, either.

For more on the subject, see Campaign Against Nepean Redskins.

Below:  "The Nepean Redskins were known as the Barrhaven Buccaneers but changed to their current name in 1981." (Photo courtesy of the Nepean Redskins)

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