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Calgary minor hockey association to remove ‘Blackfoot’ from name


The association reached out to members of the Blackfoot Confederacy to ask how they felt about the name

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A Calgary minor hockey association is looking for a new moniker after voting to change its name in the spirit of Indigenous reconciliation.

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The Blackfoot Hockey Association will be removing all references to ‘Blackfoot’ from the association and ‘Chiefs’ from the division team names. Georgina Anderson, association president, said the decision followed similar rebranding efforts from Edmonton’s CFL team earlier this year.

“That got me thinking — maybe our name is not what it should be either. I started talking with the rest of the board, and they were feeling the same way,” Anderson said.

The association reached out to members of the Blackfoot Confederacy to ask how they felt about the name, and to get a better understanding of the significance of identity and culture to the Siksika, Kainai and Piikani nations making up the confederacy.

“They were looking to reclaim their language, their inclusivity, and the association name became noise in the background,” she said. “The other thing that stuck with us was understanding that Indigenous names are gifted, and we have no idea how the Blackfoot Hockey Association got its name to begin with.”

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The Blackfoot Hockey Association has carried the name for the past 35 years, with Chiefs used in a majority of the division team names for just under a decade. The association is located near Blackfoot Trail, which could have been used as a reason to defend keeping the name, she said.

“But at the end of the day, I just think it’s the right thing to do. (The name) isn’t ours,” she said. “As sad as it is to move away from our name, I know that we’re doing it for all the right reasons.”

The association has put out a survey to members to decide on a new name by Dec. 29. Once it is chosen, the association will begin the work to design a new logo and change all the jerseys and merchandise. Anderson estimated the work will cost as much as $80,000 to complete, funded in part by money budgeted for replacement jerseys and equipment.

The Northwest Warriors minor hockey team faced a similar issue in 2017 after the parent of a seven-year-old girl told Postmedia her daughter refused to wear the jersey with the logo of a First Nations “warrior” with war paint and feathers, similar to the emblem of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Members of the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Crowchild Hockey Association began working together on a design for the Northwest Warriors before launching the team’s new logo of a knight.

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So far, Anderson said the two front-runners for the Blackfoot Association’s new name are Lightning and Wolverines. One young hockey player wrote down Carrot as a suggestion, she said with a laugh.

“That’s why I became president, I wanted my association to feel like a family. I wanted them to feel like a community. So I hope that they jump on the bandwagon here and really enjoy this rebrand and that it brings everyone together.”

bgervais@postmedia.com

Twitter: @BrittGervaisAB

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