Calgary hockey association dropping ‘Blackfoot’ name

A Calgary hockey association is rebranding itself in a step on the path to reconciliation.

Georgina Anderson, president of the Blackfoot Hockey Association in the city’s southeast, said the decision came following similar rebrands of professional sports teams, like the Edmonton Elks, and the Every Child Matters movement that came up after remains were found at residential school sites.

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The fact that Blackfoot Trail runs through the association communities of Acadian and Willow Park could have been justification for keeping the name.

“We probably could have justified continuing. But there’s just that small thought that, ‘You know what? If I’m even thinking about the Indigenous community while thinking about our association name then others are probably thinking it also,’” Anderson said.

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“We just thought… We feel a little bit uncomfortable. So how about we do a little bit of research? Let’s talk to the Blackfoot Nation. Let’s see how it feels out there and move forward.”

That research and consultation with members of the Blackfoot Confederacy helped the association understand the importance of the identity, language and culture of the Kainai, Piikani and Siksika – the nations that make up the confederacy.

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Call to action number 14 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission included the clause: “the preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by aboriginal people and communities.”

“I hope that we do justice to the Indigenous community and I hope they understand, they know that we respect where they’re at.”

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But the hockey association had to wait to make a decision on changing the name, removing the words Blackfoot and “chiefs” from team and association logos and equipment.

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“That takes time for ordering,” Anderson said. “So if you miss your window, even just for ordering your jerseys, then you can’t be ready for September.”

She expects to announce a new name in January 2022.

The association board has approved the rebrand and a committee is engaging with membership to draw up the new branding and logos. Anderson said they are likely to stick with the existing colours of blue, yellow and white. Final designs have yet to be confirmed, but she said one design principle is in play.

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“Something where we know it’ll just be fun for the kids.”

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