The Cleveland logo is seen on the uniform sleeve of third base coach Mike Sarbaugh during a game against the San Diego Padres in Cleveland during the 2014 season. (Mark Duncan/Associated Press) Jamie Strashin is a #native Torontonian whose latest stop is the CBC Sports department. Before, he spent the last 15 years covering everything from city hall to courts and breaking news as a reporter for CBC News. He has also worked in Brandon, Man., and Calgary. Follow him on Twitter @StrashinCBC
As Major League Baseball gears up for the season’s second half, one of the game’s most controversial symbols will remain.
Chief Wahoo — the toothy caricature that has long appeared on the Cleveland Indians’ uniforms and other team paraphernalia — will be allowed to stick around. At least for now.
"We have had ongoing dialogue with the Indians about the Chief Wahoo situation. I think it’s safe to say you are not going to see any dramatic developments until we’re through the 2017 season," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters this week.
In recent years, as many high school, collegiate and minor league teams have phased out references to #Indigenous peoples in their team names and logos, Cleveland and its Chief Wahoo symbol have come under increased scrutiny.
With the encouragement of MLB and many Indigenous activists, the team has moved to reduce the prominence and usage of the controversial logo. The hope, for many, is that it will eventually be phased out completely, but a final exit for Chief Wahoo has also been met with resistance from both the team and many of its fans.
Now, a prominent Canadian activist may be the one to finally force both the team and baseball’s hand.
You may remember the name Douglas Cardinal. The 83-year-old is a renowned architect and a recipient of the Order of Canada. He is also a #residential school survivor and a long-time Indigenous activist.
"For me, going to a baseball game and seeing that ugly, racist logo is entirely inappropriate," Cardinal says. "I think it belittles people." Indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal wants the Cleveland Indians to do away with their "racist" team name and logo. (Sandra Abma/CBC) ‘It’s not a revolutionary change’
Cardinal’s first salvo came last fall, when he sought an injunction aimed at preventing the Chief Wahoo logo from being displayed when Cleveland visited Toronto during the playoffs.
The move has created a legal wake that has been evolving ever since.
The last-minute injunction request, filed mere hours before the first pitch of the 2016 American League Championship Series, was ultimately rejected. But in his reasons, Justice Thomas McEwen agreed there was "serious issue to be tried as to whether the name and/or logo offend the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code."
Noting that the Cleveland Indians and Rogers Communications, which owns the Blue Jays and broadcasts their games, "essentially concede that these issues deserve to be discussed and debated in our society," McEwen wrote in his decision that "based on existing case law, and the evolving societal discussion, the issue is whether the name and logo run contrary to the OHRC is a serious issue to be tried."
Cardinal’s application was ultimately rejected because McEwen questioned both the timing and urgency of the injunction request.
"Mr. Cardinal says he cannot experience the ALCS without experiencing an affront to his dignity. I accept the truth of this statement. This has however been going on for years," McEwen wrote. "In my view there is no reason this application cannot have been brought long ago on a non-urgent basis."
McEwen noted that Cleveland had visited Toronto more than 200 times since 1977, when the Blue Jays […]
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