Ontario junior team Thorold Blackhawks have deadline to change ‘discriminatory’ logo

The Thorold Blackhawks, an Ontario Junior B team, has been given until June 1, 2017 to change its logo. The city has deemed the logo “discriminatory” and “believes that its continued use is a form of harassment.”

The Thorold Blackhawks have been a part of the Ontario junior hockey scene for more than two decades, but that’s about to come to an end. The franchise itself will be sticking around, but the logo — and possibly the name — will have to be changed.

According to the St. Catharines Standard, Thorold mayor Ted Luciani has given the team a deadline of June 1, 2017 to change the team’s crest after roughly three years of debate surrounding the logo. That order extends to the Thorold Amateau Athletic Association, which also makes use of the logo. Luciani added that once the deadline comes and goes, the logo will not be allowed inside Thorold’s arenas in any form.

“The City of Thorold, as represented by Council, shares the belief that the logo is discriminatory in nature,” Luciani wrote. “The city also believes that its continued use is a form of harassment.”

Luciani wrote that the logo has been deemed offensive and the city has been trying to work with the team to change the mark, but haven’t been able to gain any real traction. Thus, Thorold has gone with the outright ban on the logo in hopes it will spur the change. Already the city has taken steps to remove the logo from inside the arenas, a decision which “recognized the seriousness of the issue and was intended to demonstrate leadership in working toward a resolution between all parties.”

However, Ralph Sacco, who owns the Blackhawks along with Tony Gigliotti, told The Standard that the team needs more time because of the costs associated with altering the logo. He did say the team has paid to have a new logo created, though.

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“We’re a small community, a small organization and a not-for-profit so we’ve got to watch our pennies,” Sacco told The Standard.

Gene Citrigno of the TAAA echoed Sacco’s comments about the expenses associated with changing the logo, adding it could cost more than $100,000 to change the association’s entire “brand.”

“Every kid that plays, of the 400 kids we have, has a jacket, has a toque, has a track suit, warm-up gear, pants, helmets, all that stuff,” Citrigno told The Standard. “The logo’s on everything. It’s not just hockey jerseys that have to be changed, it’s the whole brand.”

One of the major catalysts for the discussion about the logo came in 2013 when Mitch Baird created a Facebook page addressing the Blackhawks crest’s offensive nature. Baird told CBC that he contacted both the city and the team about the logo around the same time he created the page.

“It’s a caricature of a Native man, you know, with a big nose, and with a Cro-Magnon forehead, and of course, long black hair with feathers,” Baird told CBC. “All I wanted to have happen was a discussion on whether those images are still appropriate in 2016, and I think we’re finding out the answer to that.”

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