The retirement of the Northern Secondary School Braves logo isn’t about individuals feeling offended. It’s about a cultural change that is needed in society as a whole. Agreed, the logo, designed by Terry Dokis and the term Brave is fairly mild on a spectrum of caricatures and indignity. Even the design was meant to instill pride in ourselves and honour our people. I am thankful for that. But it is also part of a multigenerational litanny of dehumanizing Anishinaabeg and all Indigenous people. Chief Wahoo, the Indians, Redskins, Fighting Sioux, Blackhawks face, the Noble Savage, Lakota pain ointment, Wild Bill’s Wild West Show, Tonto, the Indian in the Cupboard, the CHIPPEWA RAIDERS, Seminoles, etc, etc. A hundred years of constant bombardment that Anishinaabeg are not real people, but an image on a t-shirt, a logo on leather jacket, or a styrofoam hatchet at the ball game, war paint on a mascot or a headdress at a music festival. No wonder that governments have felt that residential schools, the Trail of Tears, the Indian Act or the Wounded Knee massacre were acceptable. It’s no wonder that you can find overt, stinging and hurtful racism everyday on the internet. Just read the comments section at the bottom of any article pertaining to our people. The very same reason why individuals from the majority feel privledged enough to say they are reverse-offended, “it never bothered anyone before”, or “it doesn’t hurt anyone” or just “get over it”. Or point to Tim, Keith or Scott and say, “See, they are fine with it.”
That reason or rationale: “Hey, come on, Chief. It’s okay.”
Well, my friends, it’s not okay.
Although Northern Secondary has always made me/us Anishinaabeg welcome, the school once referred to their students as Ojibway, Cree, and Huron. This always made me uncomfortable. How many offended First Nations people does it take to make it legit in the eyes of everyone else? 1? 10? 1500? How many would it take to make us understand that things need to change?
Northern took a small step in retiring a logo. They truly do honour us by voluntarily taking this action. I encourage you all to be a part of that change, to take your own action towards Reconciliation. Every little bit helps. Aho. Miigwetch. Thanks for your time, my friends.